Shillong, Dec. 31: This has not been an easy year for Meghalaya. The hill state had to combat several odds in spite of a glimmer of cheer that came in the fields of sports, music and festivities.
From massacres by militant outfits to strikes by schoolteachers, shutdowns by pressure groups and proscribed militant outfits, and deaths in coal mines, Meghalaya had to contend with various teething troubles. Most of these, certainly, would be carried over to the new year.
The year started with an unassuming electioneering for the constitution of the ninth Meghalaya Legislative Assembly. It resulted in a hung Assembly with the Congress managing to bag 29 seats in the 60-member House.
As the election euphoria died down, pressure groups like the influential Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) and a host of others got together to demand for the implementation of the inner-line permit (ILP) as a barricade to check influx and illegal immigration into the state.
The Garo Hills was proverbially under the shadow of the Kalashnikovs with killings, kidnappings and extortion hogging the headlines.
Superstitious beliefs also gripped the Khasi Hills region where three members of a family were hacked to death by a hysterical mob at Smit village after they were accused of practising witchcraft.
The tremors of the action taken by then Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary against the private Chandra Mohan Jha (CMJ) University, impacted not only Meghalaya, but also various states of the country. The ripples of the fallout are likely to be felt in the next year too.
On the brighter side, Meghalaya played proud host to another football club — Rangdajied United — which became a part of the elite I-League circuit, while California-based Hoobastank came and enthralled the music-loving citizens at Polo ground here.
Woman police constable Wansuk Myrthong, became the first woman from the state to scale Mount Everest, earning accolades for her stupendous feat.
A separate high court for Meghalaya was also created with Justice T. Meena Kumari being appointed as the first chief justice.
In the light of these challenges and cheer, The Telegraph spoke to a cross-section of people on what 2013 has meant for the state:
Abu Taher Mondal, Meghalaya Speaker: This year, Meghalaya elected a new Assembly with 28 fresh faces, and most of them are young and dynamic. People hoped for new ideas, which is an indication of hope for change. Although it has been a very trying year, time will heal everything.
Toki Blah, social activist: For most of us, 2013 has been an emotionally turbulent year. It brought out four core issues. First, as a community we are still a confused lot as we are yet to determine who we are and where we want to be. Second, we have no vision for the future. Third, we have lost the ability to think and we are simply driven by emotions, and fourth we have no leaders.
Ardent Basaiawmoit, HSPDP legislator: There was deterioration in the law and order in the entire state, and increasing fear in the mind of the indigenous people due to the failure of the state government to come out with an effective mechanism to check the unregulated inflow of outsiders. The people living in the border areas continue to suffer.
Naba Bhattacharjee, environmental activist: It has been a chequered year for Meghalaya on all fronts. The people, governance and all related activities were simply going through a motion, trying to decipher a way out of the numerous issues. Confusion and indecisiveness prevailed bereft of any tangible vision or clarity of thoughts.
Paul Lyngdoh, UDP legislator: A year that began with a lot of hope and enthusiasm degenerated into one of despair, tumult and confusion. The festival of democracy celebrated through the general elections have a record number of seats for the Congress, but ironically this failed to result in the emergence of a responsive, focused and pro-people government.
Michael N. Syiem, RTI activist: It has been a year of unfulfilled promises, turmoil and uncertainty where the aspirations of the people were not met. The govern-ment did not accord priority to the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act and the Compulsory Registration of Marriages Act.
Pauline Warjri, director, Aroha Choir: The end of a year is when we see the culmination of all that has gone before. The disparity between the rich and poor has grown. Basic needs like water and fuel are a luxury for the poor majority. The ILP is on everyone’s mind. Coal mines continue to poison our rivers. The year has seen little in the way of proactive improvement.
Manas Chaudhuri, former legislator: 2013 will have to be marked as a disappointing year for Meghalaya. The state remained hamstrung by an intriguing agitation, which has created simmering problems on law and order front. The stalemate over the contentious ILP issue in Khasi Hills and the lengthening shadow of armed marauders in the Garo Hills have cast serious doubts about our collective ability to govern ourselves.