Shillong, March 10: Invoking Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s One Step Forward, Two Steps Back, the Opposition today ripped the Meghalaya government apart on issues of corruption, law and order, and policing.
Lenin had used the phrase as the title of a 1904 revolutionary pamphlet on the crisis in the party.
Initiating the discussion on amendments to the motion of thanks to the governor’s address, UDP legislator Paul Lyngdoh termed the address as not only “cliched”, but also one which was “full of contradictions”, and with a lot of “myth”.
“The phrase used by Lenin is an apt reflection of what the government is,” Lyngdoh said, while reminding the House about the three-month-old agitation of the pressure groups demanding for the inner-line permit (ILP), and the education scam, which led to the termination of 246 lower primary schoolteachers.
Lampooning the government on the law and order front, he said that the governor’s address, which stated that the law and order situation was stable and under control, was the biggest myth.
“There is no bigger myth than this assertion. When you made this tall claim, what happened to the case of Nurul Islam, the police officer who had a shameful record of raping two minor girls, but who is yet to be traced, let alone being arrested? Where is the truth in the claim when the keeper of the law committed a great crime against humanity,” Lyngdoh said.
Slamming the police department, he said large areas of West Khasi Hills and the Garo hills region continue to be completely outside the rule of law.
On the allegation that police officials are involved in the lucrative coal trade, he said this was an “open secret”.
“There are a good number of police officials whose hands are full and whose time is shared between policing and running a lucrative coal trade. How have we reached to such a point? The government needs to order a thorough probe into this. How is it possible that officials who have sworn to ensure the security and safety of citizens could be busy engaging themselves in coal business?” he said.
Lyngdoh also wondered whether the peace settlement with the ANVC would receive the Centre’s nod after the Lok Sabha elections conclude.
“There are indications that the UPA government will not be back in power. What happens to the peace pact? The GNLA has also jumped (for peace talks), and the government will have to engage with it. How many peace pacts will be signed then?” he asked.
On the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), Lyngdoh referred to media reports where the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) vice-president Frederick Kharmawphlang and 13 others had joined the outfit.
He pointed out that at times, the “insensitivity” with which the government handles the issues of the youths and the NGOs provide a dose of fresh air to militancy in the state.
UDP legislator Jemino Mawthoh said there has been a “mismatch” between what is actually claimed, and what is happening on the ground.
Joining the debate, HSPDP legislator Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit said the address was nothing but “hype”.
“How could you claim that the district council elections passed off peacefully when you still have village councils (dorbar), especially in the Jaintia Hills, projecting a particular candidate and asking villagers to support the same?” he asked.
On militancy, he wondered why the government did not respond to the offer made by the HNLC for peace talks.
“Why is the government applying two different yardsticks? Why this double standard?” he asked.
At the same time, he suggested that those police officers who were earlier rewarded for their ability to contain militancy in the Khasi-Jaintia Hills region should be sent to the militant-infested Garo hills region instead of regulating traffic in the state capital.
Senior Congress leader Salseng C. Marak expressed concern over the spurt in militancy-related activities in the Garo hills and the emergence of splinter groups.
“The emergence of splinter groups is worrisome, and they are operating with impunity,” Marak said it was time for all legislators to put their heads together in resolving the militancy problem.