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Status of non-tribals in Meghalaya similar to that of Kashmiri Pandits in 1991, says Governor Tathagata Roy

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy. File

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy. File   | Photo Credit: J. Manoharan

“There should not be any discrimination and people should not be afraid of moving around,” he says

Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy said the status of non-tribal people in the violence-hit hill State was similar to that of Kashmiri Pandits in 1991.

Three people were killed and several others injured in violence at Ichamati of East Khasi Hills on February 28 following a meeting the Khasi Students’ Union had convened to discuss Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Inner Line Permit, a temporary travel document needed for outsiders to visit four other states in the northeast.

Read: Opinon | Thirty years on, still no spring for the Pandits

“I saw the need to repeatedly talk to ministers and senior civil servants of the State. The non-tribals in the State were in a thoroughly demoralised state and I got the impression their position and status is something like that of the Kashmiri Pandits of 1991 when they had to leave the Kashmir Valley,” Mr. Roy told newspersons in Meghalaya capital Shillong on Friday.

“One fundamental thing is that we are Indian citizens, where we are Khasi, Garo, Bengali, Sardar and whatever and we are living in a part of India. There cannot be any discrimination other than what is provided in the law. The law provides for some kind of abridgement of the rights of citizens in the State like you (non-tribal) cannot buy land except in a small part of Shillong. Apart from what is forbidden by law, there should not be any discrimination and people should not be afraid of moving around like free citizens,” he said.

Mr. Roy said he made it clear to senior Ministers and civil servants that as the Governor of Meghalaya, he would not allow any citizen to suffer from any indignity or fear. He said he had instructed the authorities to work towards restoring normalcy and the morale of the non-tribal people.

There have been sporadic incidents of violence, including the stabbing of non-tribal people in Shillong since February 28. Night curfew continues to be imposed in parts of Shillong and other affected areas of East Khasi Hills district.

Two days ago, 260 labourers from Assam who had hid in jungles to escape violence were rescued and brought to Guwahati by the police of the two States.

Meghalaya has had a history of violence between the majority tribal and the minority non-tribal people. Three communities — Bengali, Nepali and Hindi-speakers — have borne the brunt of several waves of violence from 1979 to 1992.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2020 4:39:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/status-of-non-tribals-in-meghalaya-similar-to-that-of-kashmiri-pandits-in-1991-says-governor-tathagata-roy/article31007854.ece

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