The West Khasi Hills district administration has come under severe criticism after the death of a newborn during a traffic snarl caused by a fishing competition at Pamphyrnai in Ksehkohlong village, located close to the Shillong-Nongstoiñ highway.
This tragic incident has sparked outrage among the local community, who accused event organizers and authorities for apparent negligence.
Hynñiewtrep Youths’ Council (HYC), North West Khasi Hills district, Ri Khasi Sepngi Federation (RKSF) and Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) have demanded the district administration to summon the organisers of the fishing competition and take punitive action against them.
HYC district president, Shembor Langrin questioned how the district administration allowed the fishing competition to be held near the highway that has caused inconveniences to commuters.
RKSF leader, Mawkordor Kharsyiemlieh said it is time that such competition near highways and public thoroughfares is banned. He said it is known that fishing competitions has led to broken families.
“A single entry to a fishing competition costs Rs 3000 to Rs 3500 and this amount is huge especially since most of those who get involved in fishing are from poor families,” he added.
The groups also criticized the police for not managing traffic but instead took part in betting after the fishing competition, to announce names of the winners of the fishing competition.
“In uniform, policemen were part of the bet to distribute slips and announce names. This is a shame to the police department and Superintendent of Police and high authorities must take note,” Langrin said.
FKJGP president, Chandra Nongdkhar has demanded compensation to be paid by the organisers to the mother. He said as the district administration permitted the fishing competition, it should take the responsibility for the incident.
It may be mentioned that the mother, Daphiralin Jyrwa of Mawthawniaw village, delivered a male baby inside a tourist taxi. Due to the delay in reaching the hospital, the baby died on the way.
The mother who is currently under medical treatment at Holy Cross Hospital, Mairang said she is devastated to have lost her baby boy because of other people’s enjoyment.
“I hope this experience will not befall on other women in the future,” she said, calling for an urgent need for better traffic management and public safety measures during such events.
The mother said she was suck in the traffic snarl at Nongspung village, approximately 11 km from Nongstoiñ, for three hours and another at Umlieh village, a few kilometers from Pamphyrnai. She said she reached the hospital at 7 pm.
Despite desperate pleas from her relatives to clear the way, many vehicles remained unmoved due to the massive traffic jam including thousands of people both anglers and spectators occupying the highway.
A video clip in which a long traffic jam with people rushing to attend a fishing competition was also seen blocking the way of an ambulance without allowing it to make its way to a hospital.