Former Meghalaya Guv asks Shillong Bengalis to emulate Sikhs

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

Kolkata, November 8

Former Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Roy, whose term ended in August this year, has asked Bengali Hindu residents of Shillong to defend themselves against racial violence by emulating “the sardarjis”.

Lamenting that the state government in Meghalaya was having no concern for the safety of non-tribals and it acted as if Meghalaya was not a part of India and the question of rights of non-tribals was quite immaterial, Roy, who lives in Kolkata, tweeted citing the example of the Sikhs of Shillong (who were successful in defending themselves against violence).

“Meghalaya unfortunately has a government which has chosen to forget that they are part of India and non-tribals are equal citizens of India.

But Bengali Hindus must unite and fend for themselves. Can any of these anti-non tribals dare to take on the Sardarjis of Punjabi Lane?” Roy, who is a senior ideologue of BJP but evidently quite disillusioned with the BJP-backed Conrad Sangma-led government of Meghalaya, tweeted  on Saturday.

Shillong, capital of Meghalaya, has been facing a fresh wave of ethnic violence targeting Bengalis following a clash in Ichamati village located on the state’s border with Bangladesh.

Khasi Students Union (KSU), an organisation notorious for unleashing violence against  Bengalis and other non-tribal residents of Shillong, put up banners in various parts of Shillong recently which read, “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis”, “Khasi land for Khasis”, “Foreigners Go Away”, and so on.

The Punjabi Lane of Shillong is located close to the city’s two prime commercial districts, namely, Police Bazar and Burra Bazar. Residents of Punjabi Lane primarily consist of Sikhs. KSU wants them to relocate or simply leave Shillong.

But, racial violence, which has worked very well against the Bengalis and resulted in their steady exodus from Shillong, has failed to intimidate the Sikhs whose ancestors had come to Shillong with British colonialists.

Meghalaya government’s brazen attempts to evict the Sikh residents of Punjabi Lane has also come to a nought owing to the strong evidence favouring the residence of the Sikhs in the neighbourhood.

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