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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bengali couple goes on hunger strike in Shillong over non-tribals being treated as third-grade citizens in Meghalaya

A middle-aged couple from Shillong on Sunday started their ‘indefinite hunger strike till death’ in protest against the alleged atrocities committed against the people belonging to non-tribal communities in Meghalaya.

However, they ended their stir before evening as the authorities allowed them to hold the protest for six hours.

The Bengali couple — Sushit Kanti Choudhury and Kalpana Choudhury — began their silent protest at Khyndai Lad, near old Meghalaya assembly gate in Shillong, alleging over 40 years of atrocities against non-tribal people in the mountainous state and the government not taking appropriate actions against the culprits.

Their hunger strike coincides with the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

The Choudhury couple in their letter to East Khasi Hills District Deputy Commissioner Isawanda Laloo claimed that not a single murderer, attackers, looters, gang of money extortionists and several other criminals have not been properly booked or punished as per the law of the land.

“We being the peace loving citizens of India are ill treated in Meghalaya as third grade Indians. We have our democratic rights to protest in a noble silent method against such atrocities and crimes committed for more than 40 years,” Choudhury told the media.

He said: “Until the Meghalaya government protects our fundamental rights and punishes those accused, we shall not end our fasting.”

Choudhury said that the non-tribal communities including Bengalis in Meghalaya have been facing atrocities since 1979 by the miscreants.

The couple had earlier sought permission from the Deputy Commissioner to undertake the indefinite hunger but the district administration allowed the couple to hold the protest only for six hours and imposed certain restrictions, including not allowing a gathering of more than 10 people at the venue.

Members of other non-tribal communities took part in the sit-in to express their “fear and uncertainty” of their lives in the northeastern state.

Referring to the January 20 broad daylight attack, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangha leader Homnath Gautam said “such an assault is meant to create an atmosphere of fear in the minority communities of the state since 1979”.

On January 20, unidentified miscreants criminally assaulted eight non-tribal people near a police station in the Lumdiengjri locality. Three of the injured persons, including two Muslims had to be admitted to the hospital.

Members from the indigenous Khasi and other local tribal communities also expressed their solidarity with the agitating couple.

“Despite sporadic violent incidents, police have not arrested the offenders. A civil society cannot support hatred among people of different communities,” rights activist Agnes Kharshiing said.

Congress MLA, Mohendro Rapsang condemned the recent attack and asked Home Minister Lakhmen Rymbui to take stern action against the culprits. The Home Minister was not available for his comment.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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