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Khasi Lineage Bill – A Chimera Destined to Fail

                           Febrieanna Syiemlieh.

God save all the laws of the land. No ordinary citizen has time nor the resources to take on each and every politician acting bizarre. It is very much the duty of the opposition political parties, media and NGOs  to put their act together and stand against such oddballs. The most bizarre of them all is the President of the United States who signs and seals by the minute multiple silly orders and passes them that even the White House Staff are left speechless and red faced while the whole world laughs at his expense.  When Donald Trump is shown on TV news channels, People see nothing but a joker. Closer home, we have the Chief Minister of Tripura whose wonderful interpretation of everything and anything have us all in stitches. “say it like Biplab” jokes are now called a daily fix in the social media. Now back home we have our own policy maker who has just opened up his cottage industry of local brew sufficient for our daily fix.

 In 2007, when H S Shylla was the Chief Executive Members (CEM) of KHADC, he made headlines by awarding a cash reward of Rs. 16000 to Amelia Sohtun and her husband Jimdir Rai for producing 17 children. The monetary award was given as a glaring example for the rest of the Khasi women to emulate. Since then, records show that production of off -springs through such inter- marriages have now reached a record high. The baby boom policy of H.S.Shylla was a huge success and the biggest achievement of his political career.  Now in 2018, after winning the MDC election after a long gap,  he has returned back to the KHADC. He now wants to introduce a Bill to stop what he introduced 12 years back. By this new Bill, the off- springs of those marriages that he encouraged will be stripped of their rights to be Khasis.

 Had this been some silly gaffe or meme, we would all forget about it after getting our daily fix from the morning papers but this time it is not to be so. Shylla thinks he is the supreme authority over the life and birth of Khasi children. No one has the divine authority to encourage and assess a mother to bear children and then strip her and her progeny of their identity. This smacks of an attempt to demolish a community which is in existence for the last thousand years. This action of Shylla has become a matter of grave concern.

If Shylla is a man of wisdom, he will opt for a functional approach to achieve whatever he intends to accomplish. It is radically wrong to try forcing his hand into a hornet’s nest because:

  1. Khasi is not even a tribe to begin with. It is the language otherwise we would have called ourselves Khasi tribe and not Khasi society.
  2. Almost all our kur/clan titles start with “Khar”. This is proof of the creation of our Khasi society. Clans came into existence when Khasi women married men from the plains. Khasi society was formedby the conglomeration of all these different houses with their given names that distinguished one from the other and hence the words Khar, Dkhar.
  3. The Indian marriage act has enough of laws and KHADC can be at an advantage if rules and regulations are imposed according to the Act for the purpose of checking imposters and infiltrators instead of concocting such bizarre laws going against the law of nature. In this regard, we should ask ourselves why “tang jait” occupies a very important place in our Khasi history, customs and traditions.
  4. The Govt. of Meghalaya has already passed the compulsory registration of marriage act:
  5. The Act should be implemented.
  6. The office of the KHADC should deal with matters relating to
  7.  Notice of intended marriage application.
  8. Certificate of Notice.
  9. The role of KHADC should be to:
  10. Run back ground checks based on the name and addresses of the persons on the application.
  11. Verify all linked documents and determine the genuine identity of the persons in question and decide on their eligibility.

This is how the whole world determines all facts in today’s computerized world.

In a Khasi society there is none who can throw the first stone. There is no such thing as pure blooded Khasis. We do not bear any characteristic physical features to distinguish ourselves from people of other communities. The colour of our skin and eyes come in all shades available under the sun and in fact it is the Khasis especially with mixed British blood who are tall and fair that we all love to see and take pride in calling them Khasi so let us not forget the fact that we came into existence by constantly following this long established, deep-rooted tradition of marriage as a matrilineal society. Yes, there may be flaws in this system but it is not a political matter for politicians to fix it instantly. We have our own kur to turn to when we have any concerns.

The think-tanks of KHADC should instead ponder upon the stupid law laid down by the Government which reads that a person should know how to speak in Khasi in order to be called a Khasi. If this is the yardstick by which we are given our Khasi schedule tribe certificate and recognised as a Khasi then the marwari shopkeepers in Iew Mawlong are all eligible contenders to be called a Khasi.

Hitler and holocaust are part of history which nobody wants to talk about. Shylla will go down in Khasi history as the infamous politician who set out on a quixotic crusade with confused perception of all significant facts sans prudence and common sense. These are all symptoms of a disease called persistent delusional disorder.  An impractical idealist who lost the way in a fantasy world and popped up blabbering gibberish, otherwise, how can one fathom the idea of stripping all Khasi women and their progeny of their Khasi identity and title? Or is Mr Shylla thinking of keeping a cut off year for this too?

The Bible reads – “parents ate sour grapes and their children’s teeth are on edge”. Surely then the children will suffer the consequences of their parents action but again in the same Bible it is written – “the word of God is like a two-edged sword” therefore it cuts both ways. Children of those on whom the stones are thrown as well as children of the stone throwers will suffer the same consequences of their parents’ action!

Ethnic cleansing is a crime against humanity. The law does not justify such actions therefore, if Shylla is still determined to put a stop to non-tribals marrying Khasi women even if it is  by his own ingenuity,  then the only way he can do so is by encouraging the formation of Seng Shynrang or Seng long kpa volunteers who may walk the lanes of their own localities as moral police the same way as Seng Kynthei and Seng longkmie volunteers to check on drunkards and trouble mongers in their locality. It is clear to us now that immorality, drunkenness, illicit, extra marital love affairs, multigamy that is rampant in our society is the core disease of all these aftermath surfacing overground today. This is totally a social problem and I don’t think KHADC can issue any diktat to stop it. The need of the hour now is to help strengthen our basic moral values and teach the masses why co-habiting freely and living the promiscuous lifestyle is now looked upon by society with shame and contempt. This calls for much social work like the Temperance Movement which I am sure KHADC under the leadership of Shylla can sponsor and initiate like the baby boom programme of his in 2007 but this time for a sensible cause. This mission if successful will keep the gold-diggers and forty-niners away from further exploitation.

Thus it can be said that Shylla is radically wrong in putting up such a persistent stance with his chimerical Bill that has no functional approach and is therefore insoluble. Nothing will fruit out of such impractical imaginary dreams.

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