| Pranab Mukherjee |
Shillong, Oct. 17: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today announced a 36-hour shutdown from Monday to protest against the visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to Meghalaya.
The shutdown will be effective from 6am on Monday across the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region only, HNLC “publicity secretary” Sainkupar Nongtraw said in a statement this evening.
“As a mark of political protest against the two-day visit of Pranab Mukherjee to Hynniewtrep land, the council declares a 36-hour general strike in the Hynniewtrep region, commencing from 6am of October 21 to 6pm of October 22,” Nongtraw said.
However, essential services, emergency measures, media and religious activities have been exempted from the purview of the shutdown.
Mukherjee will be on his maiden visit to the state from Monday.
His main programmes include an address to Meghalaya legislators on Monday evening, and the convocation at North Eastern Hill University (Nehu) on Tuesday morning.
“October 21 is being observed as the 25th death anniversary of Wickliffe Syiem, founder of Hynniewtrep nationalism, and the planned visit of Mukherjee is a political insult to Hynniewtrep National Day,” Nongtraw added.
He also said chiefs belonging to the Hynniewtrep land and the Himas (Khasi states) had never accepted nor agreed to the signing of the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement.
“They were very much opposed to it but were helpless at that point of time as (they were) under duress. With guns pointed at them, they had no other way but to sign the same,” Nongtraw said.
At the same time, he said the collective leadership of the HNLC in its recent emergent high command meeting, expressed “sheer anger” over the Indian political leadership, which is responsible for the “crisis that has hindered the overall development of the Hynniewtrep land”.
“The government of India has completely turned a blind eye towards the welfare of our nation, our people, and our resources are being exploited by these same political leaders who are luring the people by giving away schemes which in turn benefit the political leaders. Repeatedly, the government has proved that it is not for the people, but for itself,” he added.
He said the issue of influx has always been “diverted and neglected” because the political leaders are being “manipulated and economically controlled” by non-tribals.
“For the last few decades, we have seen that the issue of influx, the boundary issue, the encroachment of land by security forces are not at all taken seriously by these so called people’s representatives,” Nongtraw said.
“The HNLC, since its inception, has never trusted the government of India nor the Indian political leadership. We have taken up arms to fight the political will of the Indian government and we will keep on doing so. On the eve of our raising day, the HNLC’s general secretary had issued a statement expressing the willingness of the council to start unconditional talks with the Centre, but no response was shown. This stepmotherly attitude of the government has, in fact, boomeranged and made our determination stronger,” the HNLC publicity secretary said.
On the ongoing impasse in the state in view of the inner-line permit agitation, he said the “confronting attitude” (sic) of the state government in “hunting for several NGO leaders” was a shame.
He also said the Congress led government was in fact compelling more youths to take up arms.