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September saga: 4 tragedies and unfulfilled promises

SHILLONG: The ongoing month of September has brought back haunting memories of four tragedies – all occurring in the month of September – also bringing back retentions of broken promises.
Among the tragic incidents include last year’s devastating floods on September 22 in the entire Garo Hills region resulting in the death of over 60 persons and the firing incident at Mookhep in East Jaintia Hills on September 24 which had left two villagers dead and seven others injured.
Those who were killed and injured in the police firing at Mookhep were part of a mob agitating against the apathy of the Government in addressing the issues related to the ban on coal mining in the State.
Sources said that while there are more things to do to properly rehabilitate the people affected by the flood, it would take more time to re-construct majority of the roads and bridges destroyed in the devastating flood due to paucity of funds.
As far as the Mookhep firing incident is concerned, a magisterial probe headed by Additional Deputy Commissioner S.S. Syiemlieh was ordered by the Government. The probe report, however, was not accepted by the Government though the pressure groups insisted that the report should be made public, but in vain.
The Government went ahead with another probe headed by senior government official D.P. Wahlang which has not made any progress since no public witnesses turned up to give their statements. Nevertheless, the Political department had sought a report from Wahlang.
Another tragedy that struck the State in the month of September was the death of all 10 passengers of a Pawan Hans helicopter including Cabinet member Cyprian Sangma and two legislators – Heltone Marak and Ardhendu Chaudhuri – on September 22, 2004, in a crash.
Promises were many by the Government including developing the crash site at the hillock at Nongkhla near Kyrdemkulai in Ri-Bhoi as a tourist destination, which, however, is yet to materialize.
September 30, 2005 was christened as ‘Black Friday’ in the    Garo Hills due to the tragic death of nine persons mostly students in the police firing during their protests against the alleged move of the Government to bifurcate Meghalaya Board of School Education (MBoSE) from Tura.
While five persons were killed in Tura, another four were killed in Williamnagar in the simultaneous firing.
Two simultaneous judicial inquiries were ordered by the Government following the twin incidents.   Justice (retired) D.N. Chowdhury who probed the Tura firing incident blamed and fixed responsibility on the district administration and the police for the death of five persons mostly students.
However, sources said that till date, the State Government has failed to take action against the then Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police after they were indicted by the commission of inquiry.
However Justice (retired) D.N. Baruah, who investigated the Williamnagar incident, did not directly fix responsibility on anyone, but  pointed out that security persons were compelled to fire at the mob as lathi-charge and teargas had failed to control the crowd allegedly instigated by the pressure groups.

Events that continue to haunt public

Sept 24, 2014: Two dead in police firing on mobprotesting against coal mining ban
Sept 22, 2014: Devastating floods strike Garo Hills. Over 60 dead.
Sept 30, 2005: Nine killed in police firing in Tura and Williamnagar during protest against MBoSE bifurcation
Sept 22, 2004: Tragic death of Cabinet minister, two MLAs in chopper crash at Kyrdemkulai.

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