Meghalaya Governor bats for rights of non-tribals

He takes up with the CM the issue of assault on five Bengali boys in Shillong

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy has said he will not consider himself a Governor worth the name “if I cannot assure non-tribals of their rights.”

His tweets on Thursday were in connection with the July 3 assault on five Bengali boys who were playing basketball in the Lawsohtun area of State capital Shillong.

“Sometimes some good emerges from evil. Attack on five non-tribal boys … by a masked gang of 20 – apparently all tribals – has brought forth strident criticism from prominent tribal citizens like Patricia Mukhim and Albert Thyrniang,” he tweeted.

While Ms. Mukhim is the editor of The Shillong Times daily, Mr. Thynriang is the head of a missionary school in Assam’s West Karbi Anglong district. The latter is from Meghalaya.

“I have discussed this matter at length with the CM [Conrad K. Sangma] who is quite seized of the seriousness of the matter and has assured me of appropriate action. I have also tried to impress upon him that non-tribals in Shillong are a beleaguered lot and it is the duty of the State government to restore their morale that nobody is an outsider in the State,” Mr. Roy said.

Noting that “Indian citizens from other States have begun to take an interest in the tribal/non-tribal relations in Meghalaya,” the Governor said he had kept the Union Home Ministry in the loop.

Critical of FIR

Mr. Roy was also critical of the first information report lodged by the Lawsohtun Dorbar Shnong against Ms. Mukhim for speaking out against the attack on social media and demanding action against the accused.

Dorbar Shnong is the traditional village governing body of the Khasi tribe. The system is applicable to urban localities too.

In their FIR on July 7, the Dorbar Shnong said Ms. Mukhim’s Facebook post could “incite communal tension”.

Sylvester Nongtnger, the Superintendent of Police of East Khasi Hills district, said a criminal case had been registered and 11 suspects picked up after the five Bengali boys had been assaulted.

The police had on July 4, the day Ms. Mukhim took to social media, issued a statement warning “any individual who incites or breach communal peace and harmony.”

People deemed “outsiders” have been targets of violence in Shillong after Meghalaya attained Statehood in 1972. The Bengalis bore the brunt in 1979 followed by Nepalis in 1987, Biharis in 1992 and Dalit Sikhs in 2018.

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