An argument had gone wrong, some comments were passed, limits were crossed and the damage was done. Yes, this Thursday morning could have been like every other pleasant Shillong mornings only if the anger in the air could have been avoided. An unpleasant argument had brewed between the bus drivers and conductor of Shillong Public Transport Service (SPTS) and the local women of the Them Lew Mawlong, better known as the sweeper’s lane.
While reciting the episode and leaving no room for any false news, the Superintendent of Police of East Khasi Hills, Davis Marak, revealed in a press meet that, “The brawl took place in the morning around 9:30 to 10:00 am on Thursday when some ladies who were fetching water had some arguments with the SPTS bus conductors as the bus was blocking their way. The ladies said that the driver and conductor made some lewd comments to them when they asked them to remove the bus. In the spar, three persons among which two were minors, were allegedly assaulted by the residents of the Them Mawlong area, also known as Punjabi line,”
He further added, “In the scuffle, three persons of SPTS buses were injured. But they were not admitted to the hospital. They were (just) provided first aid and released the same day from the hospital.”
Also Read, Girls Hate these 6 Things in Men
What worsened the situation were the social media rumors of a Khasi student been beaten to death by the residents of the Punjabi line. As this false news started spreading like a wild fire, the lava of anger, rage as well has panic erupted like a volcano among the Khasi locals. And as the sun went down, a mob of approximately 200 locals started a violent march towards the Punjabi Line area. This news provoked the Punjabi Line locals to prepare themselves with dangerous weapons like lathis and daggers for counter attack.
As the crowd grew more and more ugly and violent with stone pelting as their way of protest, the police immediately crashed in launching lathi charge. The police also had to fire tear gas shell to control the stone pelters. The mere morning argument had people and the police up till the dawn in an agitating struggle, and a curfew was announced in the area under Lumdiengjri police and Cantonment beat house at 4 am by the Deputy Commissioner. According to an INDIA TODAY report, during the violence, police men were successful in arresting three persons and had seized sharp weapons and petrol bombs from them.
As of now, IANS has quoted Davis Marak, Superintendent of Police, East Khasi informing the reporters that, “The situation is very tense in the area. We have arrested a number of stone pelters and many of the policemen have been injured after they were hit by the stones.” An INDIA TODAY report has also quoted the Home Minister, James Sangma’s words assuring and appealing to maintain calm and not to fall for the false words travelling on the internet. Sangma said, “We have reviewed the overall law and order situation in the area. The area is still tense and the district administration has taken immediate measures to calm the situation.” He also informed that the internet services are temporarily terminated in order to avoid any spread of provocative and false news.”
If this news tells us anything, is that this incident is the product of years long conflict between the tribals and the non-tribals. Yes, Shillong is burning. It is burning in the fire of hatred and anger that reside in the hearts of the locals for one another. This incident is not just today’s episode, it is just a new page added to a story of clashes that started long ago in the 1986 when an anti-foreigners movement was launched by the extremist Tribal Khasi Students Union that had fallen prey to political pragmatism. And is continued till date, where all the Nepali, Marwari, Bengali and also Bihari people are meant to be the outsiders in Khasi.
“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the perfect present for the test of our civilization.” said by Mahatma Gandhi. True words by the man who saw this still distant dream of ‘Free India’ along with thousands of other brave hearts like him. But at present, where incident like this one happen in various parts of our country, makes his perfect present a very imperfect one and fails him and many others who paid the price for ‘Free India’ by losing their lives.