Shillong, April 5: Terming the April 9 Lok Sabha polls as “drama”, the proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today announced a 12-hour shutdown on the day of voting to be effective in all the 36 Assembly segments of the Khasi-Jaintia hills falling within the confines of the Shillong parliamentary constituency.
Announcing the decision through an email to the media, the HNLC’s “publicity secretary” Sainkupar Nongtraw said the outfit’s political department had met on April 1 and decided to boycott the April 9 polls.
He also said that a 12-hour shutdown from 5am would be observed on the day of voting. Voters in Shillong and Tura parliamentary constituencies will elect Lok Sabha representatives on April 9 from 7am to 5pm.
This is the second time that the HNLC has called for boycott of elections. During the Meghalaya Assembly polls last year, the outfit had called a 36-hour bandh in the Khasi-Jaintia hills, but more than 80 per cent of the electorate came out to exercise their right to franchise.
“There are various reasons behind the boycott call. Sixty-seven years had passed since India got Independence, but our status had been as of slaves. The government of India had forcefully signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement 1948 at gunpoint without the consent of the durbar hima and the syiems,” Nongtraw said.
He also said today, the people of the “HynŮiewtrep” are one of the most “endangered” ethnic communities in the 21st century. The distinct culture, religion, language and national identity faced the real and imminent threat of total assimilation and extinction, he added.
In addition to putting the HynŮiewtrep at an economic disadvantage, Nongtraw said the continuing migration of massive numbers of non-tribals into the region progressively erodes the ability of the people to hold on to their distinct cultural heritage and ethnic identity.
“India has developed a policy of deliberately encouraging Indian immigrants to settle on a long-term basis in HynŮiewtrep. The aim of the government of India is to create infrastructure to facilitate the exploitation of the vast natural resources of HynŮiewtrep and to encourage hundreds of thousands to migrate to the inhabited areas of the region,” the HNLC leader claimed.
If India really claims to be the champion of human rights, then it must come up with a “plebiscite” for the HynŮiewtrep region and let the people decide whether to stay with India or without the interference of India, he added.
“Election time is a time when corruption is at its peak level. Big industrialists fund politicians to meet high cost of elections and ultimately to seek personal favours. Bribery to politicians buy influences, and bribery by politician buy votes,” he said.
The HNLC leader also said that in order to be elected, politicians bribe poor illiterate people. “What have all the Indian MPs given us?” he asked, enlisting the “scams” allegedly involved in by top politicians like Suresh Kalmadi, A. Raja, Mayawati, Madhu Koda, M. Karunanidhi, Jayalalithaa, Mulayam Singh Yadav, B.S. Yeddyurappa and others.
“Politicians and bureaucrats in India certainly have amassed a great deal of private wealth much of which is black, deposited, untaxed, in overseas accounts. This political system is the dirtiest in the entire world. The HNLC does not have any faith in this system,” Nongtraw said.
“Many constituencies in the HynŮiewtrep, including West Khasi Hills, have decided to boycott this election,” he added.
On inner-line permit (ILP), Nongtraw said the delay in implementing the permit regime by the government had made the HNLC stronger as educated youths, who had been affected by the system, have joined hands with the council. “The longer the government takes time to implement the ILP, the stronger will the council emerge,” he said.
“The HNLC would like to appeal to the people of HynŮiewtrep to boycott the drama of elections enacted by the government of India,” Nongtraw said, adding that media, patients, ambulance services and religious ceremonies would be exempted from the purview of the 12-hour shutdown.