Meghalaya has witnessed sporadic incidents of violence all across the state for over four decades now. It is home to many tribals and non-tribals. However, The Hindu minority of the state do not enjoy equal rights. This is because of the widespread hatred and intolerance against them. The Hindu Bengalis in Meghalaya are often treated as Bangladeshis or outsiders. Their voices are curbed. They have been running away, leaving the state. They are terrorized by the outrage.
The Khasi Tribal Union (KSU)
The population in Meghalaya is predominantly Tribal. The Khasi Student Union, established in 1978, works in favour of the indigenous community and aims at securing their lives. They march with an ideology of eliminating the non-tribals from the state. The ongoing communal clash in Meghalaya has led to widespread chaos and violence.
Reasons for the Recent Agitation
Earlier this year, a member of the KSU was killed in an anti CAA meeting in Ichimati. This led to widespread agitation. Tribals staged protests and displayed racial posters at the rallies. Posters with messages like, "All Bengalis are Bangladeshis'' and " Foreigners go away". This has only worsened the situation of the minorities of the area. Shops rented to non-tribal businessmen and women have been set on fire, people have been stabbed to death. Most schools, shops, factories, and establishments were forced to shut amid the widespread violence and chaos in Meghalaya.
Following the Ichimati incident was another gruesome incident in Lawsohton, Shillong where six non-tribal youth between the age of 20-24 were thrashed with iron rods and sticks. They were on a basketball court at Lawsohton block IV when nearly 20-25 unidentified men showed up. A criminal case No. 71(07)20 was registered at Laban PS, following which, 11 suspects were picked up. Innocent young boys being beaten up in broad daylight raises multiple questions. It highlights the plight of the situation of Hindu minorities in Meghalaya.
Many look at the lack of growth and opportunities as the reason for heavy competition and their effort to cleanse them is a way of grabbing the limited opportunities.
The way forward
Meghalaya is home to many Hindus. They say they want to live in peace. The Tribals need to understand that they are not outsiders. They also need to respect the multi-ethnicity of the state. Migration is part and parcel of a globalised world. It involves assimilation, collaboration, and also inter-mingling of communities. The outlook of tribal communities to ethnic cleanse may be a self-defeating goal. Many of these same tribal communities complain of racism when they go to the plains and the non-tribals discriminate against them. Co-existence is part and parcel of an evolved society. It is high time that the tribal communities will begin accepting that the other communities are part and parcel of their world like they would like to be treated when they go to other parts of India.