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Headmen or pall bearers?


One is given to understand that the present agitation by our venerable Rangbah Shnongs is for the protection and preservation of our culture and tradition. It’s a noble thought but a doubt arises. Is this the way to do it? There is such a thing known as a pyrrhic victory, where a battle is won at the cost of losing the entire war. Is this what is happening to Khasi society, culture and tradition under the banner of the SNSBH? The centrepiece of Khasi culture and tradition is and has always been ‘Ka Akor, Ka Burom’ (individual / collective dignity and prestige through proper behaviour and decorum). It defines ka long-ryngieng (standing) amongst other societies. To spit on someone has long been regarded as a kam pohjait (derogatory) something defiling to ‘Ka Akor ka Burom.’ When such desecration is openly committed or encouraged by a Rangbah Shnong ( reportedly of Mawpat) or head of our traditional institution it is a death blow to our tradition. Our traditional heads have always been revered as elders armed with the experience of age and wisdom of their years. These are the qualifications Khasi traditional leaders have armed themselves with for generations as they led society from crisis to crisis. Foresight, wisdom and experience are core to our system of governance ( ka synshar ka khadar). Words of wisdom from the Tymmen Shnong is respected by all even by Government. Today the temptation for popularity and star status on the electronic media has thrown caution to the winds. Rangbah Shnong are agitating out on the streets; rabble rousing ( pynkhih shnong) has become their forte; the institution of the Dorbar has been reduced to that of an NGO or pressure group.

Today, how different is the Dorbar as an Institution from a student body (KSU), youth group ( FKJGP) or any aggressive social body (HYC)? Can an alcoholic father advise his son against drinking? Have the durbars forfeited their authority to advice and govern? One of the basic strengths of our dorbar system is its apolitical characteristic. Traditional wisdom has kept the dorbar away from party politics. We have always remained neutral and impartial in affairs of politics. Suddenly this has changed. Why take sides in the dirty political fight between PN Syiem and Mukul Sangma? Both the State Government and District Council are made up of politicians whose agenda has always been driven by self-interest, unprincipled political ambition and naked obsession for power. No exemptions! Please tell me how have things suddenly changed today? Why are Rangbah Shnong , in the name of tradition, emulating the politicians? Our tradition has in the process been murdered. Today as the joyful pall bearers perform the last rites over the dead body of my tradition, I stand under the pine trees and weep.

Yours etc.,

Caroline Dkhar,


Imposition of AFSPA in Garo Hills


The recent order of the Meghalaya High Court asking the Government of India to consider the imposition  of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 in Garo Hills in view of insurgency problem is interesting in
the context of enjoyment of human rights especially that of women in a democratic state of India. The Act has been considered by many as draconian and the Government of India has been advised by the United Nations to repeal it as it is contrary to democracy. Christof Heyns, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions as reported in one of the leading national daily on March 31, 2012 stated, “The AFSPA in effect allows the state to override rights in the disturbed areas in a much [more] intrusive way than would be the case under a state of emergency, since the right to life is in effect suspended, and this is done without the safeguards applicable to states of emergency,”
Similarly the Committee on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) which is an important international body onwomen’s rights had in 2007 and 2014 made a recommendation for the repeal of the Act in view of the violation of women’s rights in the areasunder its promulgation. Various committees in India had also recommended  the repeal or at least a review of the Act which
included the B.P Jeevan Reddy Committee (2005), Administrative Reforms Committee headed by Veerappa Moily (2007), Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir headed by Mohammad Hamid Ansari (2007) and the Justice Verma Committee (2012). Moreover, the Act has not shown that it is capable of tackling insurgency which a determined Home Department of the State Government can as in the case of Khasi and Jaintia Hills.

Yours etc.,

Batskhem Myrboh,

Via email  

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