Meghalaya government appeals for peace after posters target Bengalis in Shillong

Sources in the student body indicated that the poster campaign had its roots in the Ichamati incident earlier this year

Guwahati: After a racial campaign of influential students body—Khasi Stuents Union (KSU) against Bengali in Shillong, the state government has appealed to all communities to maintain peace and harmony ahead of the festive season in Meghalaya.

The KSU had put up posters racially profiling the Bengali community accusing all Bengalis in the state of being ‘Bangladeshis’, prompting the state police to remove the posters and warn of action against those trying to “incite communal disharmony”.

The banners and posters, reading “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis”, were alleged to have been put up by the KSU.

Police however said that for the interest of communal harmony, the KSU should refrain from indulging in such activities otherwise legal action would be taken against those trying to disturb peace and harmony.

Former Meghalaya governor Tathagata Roy, also a BJP leader in Kolkata, tweeted: “I say this taking full responsibility as ex-governor of Meghalaya: KSU needs to be banned just like HNLC. It is an anti-national terrorist organisation, threatening Indian citizens, some of whom are residents of Meghalaya since British times. Like my family on both sides.” The Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council is a banned militant outfit in Meghalaya.

Shillong-based Central Puja Committee also appealed to all sections of the community irrespective of caste, creed and religion to maintain peace, harmony and brotherhood among the residents of Shillong in particular and the state of Meghalaya in general.

Meghalaya home minister Lahkmen Rymbui said, “Anything we do, we should not vitiate the atmosphere or disturb peace and tranquillity in the state. I request everybody not to give communal colours to any incident.”

Sources in the student body indicated that the poster campaign had its roots in the Ichamati incident where earlier this year, a member of the KSU was killed in clashes with non-tribals who were largely Bengalis.

The violence broke out when KSU had organised a rally against the Citizenship Amendment Act and in favour of Inner Line Permit or ILP in Meghalaya at Ichamati, a small town very close to the border with Bangladesh. One of the posters put up by KSU also mentioned the Ichamati incident and death of the KSU member.

General Secretary of the Khasi Students' Union Donald Thabah told reporters in Shillong that this was a protest against a "fake narrative".

He said, “Recently we have had too many groups interfering in an ongoing investigation of the murder of a youth. This was our time to speak up and that is why we have decided to protest. They tried to give it a racial, communal colour. They made baseless allegations that the Christian majority is persecuting the Hindu Bengalis in areas like Ichamati. Meghalaya Police gave multiple statements clarifying that there were no such issues. Yet, these groups were hell bound to spread the fake narrative.”

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