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HNLC bandh an opportunistic move

THE outlawed HNLC has jumped into the much touted controversy surrounding the powers and functions of the Rangbah Shnong which was challenged by the Meghalaya High Court last year. The militant outfit is calling a 48-hour bandh beginning today (May 26) and is leveraging on this issue to gain public support and popularity as are other political wannabes and political parties. This is the peak tourist season. On Sunday last Mawlynnong had over 500 footfalls and the admission fees for tourists to climb the look-out point @ Rs 20 each, the living root- bridge also @ Rs 20 each and the parking cum maintenance fee of Rs 50 per vehicle fetches a good sum for Mawlynnong and surrounding villages. After much capacity building, the people of different villages in Meghalaya have learnt to brand their villages as destinations worth visiting and they are drawing quality visitors who patronise the home-stay opportunities. Local tour promoters and entrepreneurs are also doing their best to promote different tourism products. These in turn generate employment within the villages. But to sustain tourism there has to be a climate of peace and certainty so people can plan their holidays. The proposed bandh by HNLC has thrown many tourists out of gear. Word of mouth is a great advertisement both good and bad. Those who will have to cut short their trip will talk about their disappointment and others would be deterred to visit this State. As a result the income to villages will dwindle. Does the HNLC care about all this? And whose cause is it promoting? Who is it fighting for? Let the outfit not forget that it was some tribal villagers who went to Court to complain against the highhandedness of their Rangbah Shnong. Social ostracism of certain people based on flimsy allegations is common and the law has to take cognisance of them. And it did so! We all seem to have forgotten the genesis of the High Court ruling.
The SSLC results have just come out. Students and their parents have to rush to get admission forms from different colleges in the next two days. The 48-hour bandh is a stumbling block for them. Some parents have expressed their unhappiness at the unscheduled bandh call by the militant outfit. It is high time for all those who have a stake in the development of Meghalaya to collectively voice their antipathy to all forms of impositions which disturb the economic activities not just of the rural poor but of the State itself. It is time to let reason dictate our actions and not allow populism to lead the people of Meghalaya to economic ruination.

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