A tense situation prevailed in parts of Meghalaya after several posters targeting Bengalis appeared in Shillong and various other parts of the state on Wednesday. According to the reports, Khasi Students’ Union, which is an influential students’ body in Meghalaya, put up banners referring to all Bengalis in the state as ‘Bangladeshis’.
The banners put up by KSU in various parts of Shillong, read, “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis” and “Khasiland for Khasis; Foreigners Go Away”.
So a bunch of hoodlums associated with student unions here in Shillong put up highly hateful and defamatory posters directed towards the state’s Bengalis, and the administration watches helpless like a bunch of fools whose testicles have failed to descend. pic.twitter.com/iix1J06FSp— Sanbeer Singh ਸਨਬੀਰ ਸਿੰਘ (@SSanbeer) October 21, 2020
However, the Meghalaya Police brought down the banners on Wednesday and warned people against putting such racist posters targeting Bengali population in the state. The Police said legal action would be initiated against those trying to “incite communal disharmony”.
“It is hereby informed that banners that were displayed today in public places, have been removed. We request all concerned to kindly co-operate with us in promoting peace and harmony in the State,” Meghalaya Police tweeted.
Assistant IGP, GK Iangrai, said that the KSU should refrain from activities that negate the social fabric and legal action shall be taken against anyone trying to incite communal disharmony in any form.
It is hereby informed that banners that were displayed today in public places, have been removed.— Meghalaya Police (@MeghalayaPolice) October 21, 2020
We request all concerned to kindly co-operate with us in promoting peace and harmony in the State. pic.twitter.com/hJT0VxHe3y
Meanwhile, defending his organisation’s action, KSU chief Lambok Marngar said, “The display of banners in Shillong and other parts of the state was intended to send a message to trouble-mongers who were trying to mislead the country and create hate especially on the Ichamati issue.”
“Those claiming to be residents of Shillong but living in Kolkata and other places are giving false statements that Khasis are targeting non-tribals and they have organised protests in Kolkata and Silchar,” Marngar added.
Posters were put up to mourn the death of KSU member during Ichamati clashes
Putting up posters, the students’ body also mourned the death of one of its members during the clashes that erupted during the anti-CAA protests in the Bengali-dominated Ichamati village along the India-Bangladesh border in February. The Ichamati clash which occurred on February led to the death of Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) member Lurshai Hynniewta.
Following the death of Hynniewta, several non-tribals were allegedly stabbed to death in different parts of the state. The Ichamati incident was raked up after allegations of institutionalised harassment of non-tribal women and children were made against the tribals in reaction to the death of KSU member.
The Bengali population had written a letter to the NCPCR and Governor Satya Pal Malik alleging harassment of by locals in Ichamati, which increased KSU’s resentment against Bengali population.
Later, the state government, in its response to the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), had claimed that no cases of harassment of Ichamati residents, particularly women and children, were found.
Ban KSU, it is an anti-national terrorist organisation, says former governor
The racist banners put up by Khasi Students’ Union has now stoked a massive controversy, prompting various leaders from Bengal to demand that the organisation be designated as a “terrorist outfit”.
Former Governor of Meghalaya Tathagata Roy said, “I say this taking full responsibility as ex-Governor of Meghalaya: KSU needs to be banned just like HNLC. It is an anti-national terrorist organisation, threatening Indian citizens, some of whom are residents of Meghalaya since British times. Like my family on both sides.”
I say this taking full responsibility as ex-Governor of Meghalaya: KSU need to be banned just like HNLC. It is an anti-national terrorist organisation,threatening Indian citizens,some of whom are residents of Meghalaya since British times. Like my family on both sides. https://t.co/rIOB73ycq2— Tathagata Roy (@tathagata2) October 21, 2020
Non-tribals in tribal dominant states in North-East such as Meghalaya have been suffering immense discrimination and are often the victims of hate crimes. In July this year, six non-tribal youths were injured grievously in Meghalaya on Friday after they were attacked by unidentified goons.
The incident had occurred after the boys, all between the age of 20 and 24, went to play basketball in Shillong. They were attacked by a group of around 20 individuals, allegedly tribals, who were armed with iron rods and sticks.