Shillong, Aug. 22: A people’s conclave on The Price of Superstition will be organised here on Saturday by the Shillong Press Club in collaboration with Informed Conscious And Responsible Existence (ICARE).
The conclave is aimed at soliciting people’s views on incidents of killing, ostracism and other acts that infringe on basic human rights, as a result of superstitious belief, Shillong Press Club president David Laitphlang said.
The conclave is being organised against the backdrop of Friday’s killings at Smit in East Khasi Hills, where three members of a family were hacked to death by a hysterical mob, which accused them of practising witchcraft.
“Though the government machinery and civil society groups regularly embark on exercises to sensitise people on the ill effects of such beliefs that often lead to tragedies, yet nothing seems to quell such behaviour, which is easily passed off as traditional belief,” he said. He felt it was time for all stakeholders to come forward and talk about the issue, which is “stifling the fundamental right to life of the citizens of the state”.
Apart from social organisations and pressure groups, faith-based organisations have also been invited to share their thoughts on this issue.
Organisations participating in the conclave include the Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong, Lympung ki Seng Kynthei, Synjuk ki Seng Samla Shnong, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches, Seng Khasi, Sein Raij, Khasi Students’ Union, Federation of Khasi Jaintia & Garo People, Meghalaya Women’s Alliance, Civil Society Women’s Organisation, Meghalaya College Teachers’ Association and the Meghalaya People’s Human Rights Council, among others.
There will also be representation from the district administration, police, individuals and other citizens of the state. A resolution may also be adopted at the conclave to address this menace more effectively, Laitphlang said.
Plea for probe: Nongkrem legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit today demanded a thorough investigation into “mysterious deaths” in and around Smit village. “There have been a numerous incidents of mysterious deaths in and around Smit village. I was informed by the villagers that as many as five persons from the village were found dead from the Umiew river bank under similar and suspicious circumstances,” Basaiawmoit wrote in a letter to home minister Roshan Warjri.
He said the unfortunate incident that took place on Friday “may be attributed to these series of unnatural deaths. I am of the view that an incident like this should not have been allowed to occur in the first instance,” Basaiawmoit added.
Therefore, he said that it was important for the government to conduct a thorough investigation into all these mysterious and suspicious deaths that have taken place in order to unearth the truth.