Kharshiing out on bail

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By RINING LYNGDOH
  • Published 17.11.13
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Shillong, Nov. 16: Emotions ran high outside the premises of Shillong district jail this afternoon when people accorded a “hero’s welcome” to social activist and Civil Society Women’s Organisation (CSWO) president Agnes Kharshiing, who was conditionally released on bail from prison after nine days in judicial custody.

As soon as she reached the main entrance of the jail, people, especially those who were evicted from plots in Umsawli and Mawlong-Mawtari villages under the New Shillong Township (NST) project, shed tears of joy and rushed to hug her.

At the emotional gathering, Kharshiing was garlanded with flowers, and presented bouquets by her colleagues and well-wishers. Among others waiting to welcome the activist were three toddlers, aged between six months and one year, from Umsawli and Mawlong-Mawtari villages, who had come along with their mothers.

“They (children) will be our future leaders,” Kharshiing told the mothers as she kissed each of the toddlers with tears in her eyes.

The three toddlers, along with their mothers, also participated in the sit-ins held in the city this week to show solidarity with Kharshiing and protest against the government for evicting them from the land of which they claimed to be rightful owners.

“We are so elated with the release of Kong (Agnes) today, and together with her, we shall continue to fight for our rights,” said one of the members of the evicted families.

Other social activists, including Angela Rangad, and well-wishers came to welcome Kharshiing.

Police had arrested Kharshiing on November 8 for allegedly obstructing officials of Meghalaya Urban Development Authority (MUDA) from carrying out an eviction drive at Umsawli and Mawlong-Mawtari areas.

Kharshiing was granted bail by the court of deputy commissioner (judicial) A. Ripnar yesterday on three conditions. This afternoon, after furnishing the bail bond amounting to Rs 20,000, she was released from the district jail.

The conditions include that Kharshiing should not hamper or tamper with the prosecution evidence, not threaten the complainants as well as the witnesses and that she should not abscond.

“The government said that I have done wrong. However, I have not done anything wrong and I will continue to fight for the rights of the people,” Kharshiing told reporters.

On the fate of the evicted families, she said the landowners have to get back their own land.

“I will continue to fight with them for their rights and will not retreat even if I have to face arrest a thousand times,” she vowed.

Meghalaya urban affairs minister M. Ampareen Lyngdoh yesterday suggested to the evicted families who met her to approach a civil court to decide on the issue of ownership over the land in the New Shillong Township area.

According to Lyngdoh, five families were evicted, while two teashops, two empty cowsheds and four kutcha huts were dismantled during an eviction drive conducted by MUDA at Umsawli and Mawlong-Mawtari on November 8. MUDA was firm in its claim that those people who were evicted were “encroachers”.