Shillong, Oct. 1: Tomorrow will be exactly a month since Meghalaya was plunged into a series of night road blockades, picketing of offices, and shutdowns following a standoff between the Mukul Sangma government and pressure groups on the intricate inner-line permit issue.
While Sangma has been saying “no” to the ILP, the pressure groups, and some political parties, have remained unwavering in their demand for the permit regime to check influx and illegal immigration into Meghalaya.
The standoff has been lingering ever since talks between the government and the groups reached a blind alley on August 29 at the state secretariat.
A solution to the imbroglio appears to be remote. And for how long will this stalemate persist? It is a question with no definite answer.
The state Assembly, which will meet from Monday, is expected to have a threadbare, and perhaps, an animated, deliberation on the current impasse as the government arms itself with the Meghalaya Regulation of Landlords and Verification of Tenants bill as the antidote to the flow of “illegal settlers”.
Concerns have been expressed that the forthcoming Durga Puja festival may be hit hard in view of the existing deadlock.
But organisers are optimistic that the secular credentials of the state will be upheld by one and all.
“We expect the support and co-operation of all. I am confident that the coming religious festival will be peaceful and stress-free like in other years. Present issues are beyond religious realm and it is hoped that all citizens will uphold the strong secular credentials of the state and its people,” Central Puja Committee (Meghalaya) working president Naba Bhattacharjee said.
The committee has also appealed to all sections of the citizens of Meghalaya, in general, and Shillong in particular, to co-operate with and support all Puja committees as in earlier years to ensure a smooth and peaceful celebration of Durga Puja, Chhath Puja and Diwali/Kali Puja.
The festival season will commence with the annual Get-Together of Harmony of all-faith groups.
The gathering, which has been organised since 1994, will be held on October 8. Durga Puja will begin on October 10 and will continue till October 14.
Bhattacharjee said there would be nearly 57 puja pandals across the Greater Shillong area while 17 such pandals will be put up in the entire Garo hills region.
In East Khasi Hills, he said, there would be five pandals, in Jaintia Hills seven, and in Ri Bhoi five.
The Opposition United Democratic Party had yesterday appealed to the agitating pressure groups to take into account the forthcoming religious festivals.