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Shalom Meghalaya calls for peace

Tura, Aug. 17: It was a display of public anger against rising insurgency in Garo hills as a huge crowd came out today to participate in the Shalom Meghalaya campaign at MP Stadium, Dakopgre here.

The campaign is an initiative to strengthen and sustain peace in Garo hills by religious organisations, led by the Catholic and Baptist Church.

It was indeed a special Sunday as people vowed to ensure peace. Religious leaders from all communities read their scriptures to set the ball rolling for a yearlong campaign aimed at boosting the morale of the people hit by insurgency.

A perfect display of unity to restore peace in Garo hills, flagged off by archbishop of Guwahati Rev. John Moolachira, bishop of Tura Rev. Andrew Marak, the president and general secretary of A’chik Baptist, Dalgipa Krima, Rev. R.D. Shira and Rev. Janang Sangma.

The Garo hills region has seen rising cases of insurgency in the past three months and several outfits have made attempts to destabilise peace by unleashing terror.

Speaking before a crowd of about 10,000, Rev. Moolachira said, “Peace is the need of the hour”. Quoting Abraham Lincoln, he dwelt on the loss of life and property arising out of militant activities: “Violence is senseless which does no good to anyone and resisting violence through violence is not the solution. Violence only retards the growth of society and has multiple negative effects.”

He said resistance to injustice and change can be brought about only through education of the youth and treating them with equality and respect.

The deputy commissioner, West Garo Hills, Pravin Bakshi spoke at length on the urgency of peace in Garo hills stating the movement is nothing less than a holy war to bring about normalcy in the region. “The fact that thousands have turned out for the programme is a manifestation of the people’s desire for peace,” he added.

Rev. Janang Sangma said there could be no justification in the means adopted by the militants. He said a change of heart alone can bring about effective changes and the situation in Garo hills needed collective action.

Rev. Andrew Marak, the chief convener of Shalom Meghalaya, urged the militants to return to the mainstream.

A representative of minority communities, Ajanta Deb, spoke on the need of living in harmony. “The principles of fellowship, forgiveness, love and harmony needs to be revisited,” she said.

An inter-faith candlelight vigil was held yesterday. People who had assembled at the venue then took a pledge for peace and the caravan van was flagged off.

Fr Sunny, who is associated with the campaign, said, “The movement through various interventions like public gatherings and prayer meetings will make an effort to instil hope and confidence among the people in Garo hills.”