A ‘Coordination and Welfare Committee’ has been formed for Shella Bholaganj block and adjoining areas to ostensibly promote peace, mutual respect and economic growth in the area.
The committee was formed following a meeting yesterday among the residents of the area in East Khasi Hills.
In a press release today the committee’s President, Gopal Dey, said that the meeting “condemned the untoward incidents that happened in Ichamati and urges for appropriate punishment to the miscreants,” but did not mention what incidents it was referring to, though it could be the violence in the town back in February, which led to the death of a Khasi Students Union activist.
The committee’s aims were laid out in the release, which has a conciliatory tone after weeks of rising tensions within the state and outside brought about by allegations of persecution of non-tribal Hindus in Ichamati and the state as a whole.
Interestingly, the three people who made these allegations public in a meeting with Governor Satya Pal Malik last month are office bearers in the committee – Mridul Das is one of the Assistant General Secretaries, while the Treasurer is Binayak Roy and Assistant Treasurer is Prantush Sarkar.
The committee’s noble aims are to foster a spirit of brotherhood among residents of Meghalaya, irrespective of caste, creed, religion or language, inculcate a spirit of unity, patriotism and mutual respect, encourage the spirit of communal harmony, hard work and dignity of labour, protect and sustainably utilize the natural resources of the state for the benefit of the people.
A scan of the office bearers and executive members, however, reveals that none of the 43 people named belong to the Khasi community (they are also all men, with no female representation). Whether this is because Khasis were not approached to join or did not wish to join is not known.
The committee, the release went on to say, will take up issues pertaining to Meghalaya, including Shella Bholaganj, for the benefit of “all concerned”. It also said it will take up issues with the central government “for the cause of the state and people of Meghalaya.”
The meeting resolved to urge all concerned to restore and then maintain peace and harmony among all the people living in the area.
The committee requested that the authorities take necessary steps for the renewal or issuance of licences and no-objection certificates (NOCs). This was a key grievance in the representation made by Sarkar, Das and Roy to the Governor last month.