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Since 1st March, 1999
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Tura suffers politics of pain

Dobasipara (Tura), Feb. 25: It’s been three years since Dipok D’Shira left home to join a demonstration and returned in a coffin.

Time and the drudgery of daily chores were just beginning to rob the D’Shiras of the intensity of grief brought on them that day — Dipok and other students were in a rally against the proposal to bifurcate the Meghalaya Board of School Education — when news arrived of a party releasing a VCD of that very incident.

Purno A. Sangma could have been a little kinder and spared this family the ache of revisited grief, but “concerns of the state” ostensibly prompted the Nationalist Congress Party to make the VCD. It contains clippings of the firing incident that left nine dead and the party has been circulating it across several constituencies.

The D’Shiras are thankful that the VCD has yet to reach their village.

As you take the long winding road — barely fit to be called one — leading up to the D’Shiras’ half-constructed house in the Dobasipara locality of the Tura Assembly constituency, the first thing that strikes you is the barrenness.

Bahoni D’shira comes forward with a disarming smile — only her eyes give away the agitation of a poked-at wound.

Scarcity furnishes the incomplete concrete house; running a nine-member family has clearly been a struggle for homeguard Munju A. Sangma, Bahoni’s husband.

Their eldest daughter got married last year and the remaining five children are still in school.

“I have not seen the VCD myself but those who have seen it say that it contains the details of the incident. It was not distributed in my locality. But it has revived memories of my son’s tragic end. It is very sad and unfortunate. It is not good to politicise the issue. We have to move on,” says Bahoni, Dipok’s mother.

Is it not enough to walk about with the pain of watching Dipok’s friends sit for the matric examination that the NCP had to remind her of the loss with graphic description?

“Raji N. Sangma was Dipok’s best friend. They were together that day. He was his usual cheerful self. Raji had seen him die in the field. They were marching together. Had he been alive today, he, too, would have sat for the matric examination from Mothers’ Union School in Tura.”

For the record, the West Garo Hills deputy commissioner, E.P. Kharbhih, has given a clean chit to NCP leader P.A. Sangma in the VCD controversy. The administration has not found anything objectionable in the contents of the VCD titled Chakat Achik Me a Mechik (Arise Garo men and women).

Four from Tura and five from Williamnagar were killed in the twin firing, one of whom was the promising Dipok.

Those who know the family say that the tragedy has also made them wiser about life and politicians. “It is bound to happen. Community leaders, student leaders, politicians, well-wishers visit their place every now and then since that fateful September morning,” one of them said.

But no, Bahoni is not revealing her cards just as yet.

She says the sitting Independent MLA Billykid Sangma had dropped in before and is expected to drop in again. Congress’s Cyrus Tangseng D. Shira had visited parts of their locality while NCP strongman P.A. Sangma has not yet come calling.

For Bahoni, her vote will go to the candidate who is sincere and will work for development. “It will be decided at the right time,” she says.

She is not giving anything away — neither her tears nor her vote.

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