Distasteful reporting tactics in Shillong over the years, has created a communal chaos in the city in the past. With social-media being so very vibrant, a ripple effect is created all over the country that might put the entire Northeast community at a further risk in the future particularly in Mainstream India.
Dear Northeast (Tribal) people,
I, Mayborn Lyngdoh R would like to bluntly tell you that You, me and every single one of us or that look like a Tribal are under the threat of being a victim in mainstream India as a result of yet another irresponsible blank shot fired with an insensitive virtual ink of communalism all over the internet. Please, take care to not be overwhelmed…
The diabolical stench of the venom is once again spewed. Every single article, and story read the same. Tribal and Non-tribal is becoming a household issue. Every tongue – the educated, less educated and the illiterates are psychologically brain-washed to align with the same hurtful diction.
The year 1979 is fed like covid-19 to every single citizen of the country, if possible, to canonized it as a symbol of Hatred, painted, and diligently shaped over the years by one woman. Congratulations, they are beginning to speak your language now – Hate.
Riding on the fame of the controversial video filled with false documentation, Vic Day (a Westernised ‘Vic’ for Vicky and ‘Day’ for Dey) is swinging on his temporal social-media fame as a flag-bearer for Bengalese. Furthermore, you have called for a unification of all the non-tribals against the Tribals. How ironic! A man who is ashamed to wear his real name because it sounded too Indian; and thought Westernising it would sound ‘cool’ is the prophet fighting for the identity of the Bengalese. Is this a joke?! Bro, you need to slap yourself, “Burbok, Nautangki ka Sala. Pehle, khud ka identity ko thik kar. Kyun bhok rahe ho?” But, I don’t blame you. The biggest Nautangki is an impetus from none other than that of our very own. Though adorning accolades that stood as tall as the Himalayas, it is a shame of the need to indulge in cheap promotional tactics.
The tribals are painted to be barbaric with every single opportunity, yet, for years, since 1987, we (Tribals) still patiently stand motionless with hopes that maturity will dawn. We are still waiting.
However, on the other side of the aisle, some of the non-tribals (particularly the ones who are not from Shillong) feel warmth under the asylum of a Khasi who is Anti-Khasi. It gives the case a different kind of assurance that “Yes, we’re protected!”
What all of us are missing is the part that no one is safe under conflicts and chaos. I will not speak with assurance of the damage caused over the years, I will only cite the example of The Sweeper’s Lane imbroglio. The case was three young boys were attacked by a mob – the investigation and arrests were delayed – the tribals thronged the streets in protest – the then Home Minister called for troops (justly to tame the situation) – tear-gas was fired, and rubber-bullets shot at the protestors, hundreds of Tribals were arrested, hospitalised, and injured. The original demand was the arrests of a dozen culprits that only turned ugly because of the failure of the Government to act, and the well-timed biased punchline of a blind editor.
The Tribals and non-tribals in Shillong had slowly but steadily learnt to not be so easily infuriated. A handful are, but a majority are not. Therefore, it is of prime importance to understand the power of one’s position.
How a scuffle between a group of young boys is painted as communal is beyond comprehension. Our beloved Governor has joined the party. Boys fight and beat each other up not because they are communally driven, but because they simply do not like each other. Period! When we were young, we fight all the time, been thrashed by some while thrashing some, but because no illogical columnist intervened to write about it, we tamed our fights by ourselves, and it went just fine.
It is very distasteful, that the venomous lot that have also added more fuel to the fire are the non-Khasis that were residents of Shillong but left for greener pastures. The love they claim for the city is as fake as their social-media name. If one notices, the videos made are an opportunistic attempt at fame. The fact that they are no longer part of the city, gives them the liberty to interpret and add more communal colour to their advantage because even if this pressure-cooker explodes, they’re safe. At the end of the day, we, who are here will be affected. We might even lose the ones we love. But why should they be concerned, they’re safe!
The former KSU President, Paul Lyngdoh has eloquently documented of how far we have come, from where we were since the 1960s onwards in his article published on Facebook covering factual key aspects of history that is of the affirmative. Some would like to call it political; maybe it is, I do not know, but I only acknowledge the fact that an attempt is made to reconstruct the burned bridge. Wounds are healed by a balm, not by a knife.
It is quite disheartening to note that some others are obsessed with being stuck in the same place where they once were. More horrific is the attempt to drag the contemporary generation to the same pitfall to re-draw the nightmares from whence they escaped from. All men are imperfect, but it is the attempt towards perfection that puts us an inch closer towards the perfection that we seek. If we look to point the injustices (both sides), it will never end. In life, we move forward to be better, to right the wrongs, and to move away from hate. Most of us weren’t even born during the time that you so proudly vomit on us time and again. Why is it that some of you are hell-bend to make us just like you?
Had Martin Luther King Jr said, “I cannot forget the injustices done to my people. We the negros will one day avenge the discrimination on our kind”, the story would’ve read differently. He instead said, “I have a dream that one day my children will be judged by the content of their character and not the colour of their skin”.
While the remnants of a handful of racists remain and will remain all over the world, there are Whites like Billie Eilish to lead the protest.
Tell me, how will we all learn to live in harmony as individuals when we continue to let be overwhelmed by everything that is being fed to us?
In a family, there are misunderstandings and disagreements between a husband and wife, between siblings and cousins. In Shillong the Khasis speak in Hindi to the non-tribals while the non-tribals attempt to reply in Khasi. That is the beauty that we now have shared. Amit Paul was received the best by the Khasis from Mawlai (Allegedly, most dangerous place for non-tribals) than from his own people. This was a classic case of what kind of energy is being fed, and what kind of energy is being absorbed. It’s all about how the mind is being shaped by news reporters and editors. The public swallow what you cook. There is no room for recklessness with the world bridged by the internet, every highlighted legit or pseudo “Tribal-Nontribal” issue becomes sensational news.
Had the situation just stayed in Shillong, it would’ve still been different, but the irresponsible lust for fame has started a growing fire. It was horrific to read the comments and threats made on the tribals. More horrific is how some were directed at the Nagas who are from a different state altogether just because they are tribals by mainstream Indians. If lives are lost, is it enough to later apologise and regret? Will an apology or a change of a statement be enough? No!
Many tribals have already been victims in Mainstream India. The killing of Nido Tania is just one of the thousands of cases. The Mainstream population does not identify us as Khasi, Jaintia, Garo, Naga, Mizo, Arunachali, Tripuri, Manipuri and the others, they identify all of us as “Northeast People”. If you are to scroll through the social-media forum, one will see how the rest of India is ignorantly infuriated by the drama created by a pseudo Humanitarian activist and a hypocritical self-westernised chap.
Furthermore, we (KHASI) have been deemed racist for calling a non-tribal “Dkhar”. Despite, the best efforts to explain by most of the eminent people, the negative is always favoured because it is a Khasi woman who keeps on highlighting the word “Dkhar” to be racist. I just have one question, If “Dkhar” is racist, how is it that the most reputed Khasi professor from NEHU, proudly wears the name, “Dkhar”? An ex-CEM of the KHADC was also a Dkhar. You equate “Dkhar” with “Chinky”. Have you ever heard of a Mainstream Indian with a “Chinky” surname? Never! It does not happen anywhere in the world. The contemporary generation is a very sensitised and desensitised generation. It’s always about popular opinion.
I do not know why our forefathers decided to call you “Dkhar”. The only interpretation we have is a comprehension of it to mean racist, have you ever thought that since they proudly, wore the name “Dkhar” themselves, they gave it to you maybe to adopt you as one of their own and not as an outsider? We humans are always obsessed to be swayed by the negative because it gives us that uninhibited pleasure. We are being called “Khasia” despite the pronunciation of Khasi not being so very difficult. Yet, we have never been offended. Why should we? Among Khasis we have even more hurtful adjectives towards each other, U Iong, U Lyngkot, Ka Rben, Ka Syndem, whose literal meaning is too much for this sensitised generation to digest.
As a responsible citizen of the state of Meghalaya, I humbly appeal to the youths of the state in particular – Let us not repeat the mistakes of our fathers, to take up arms against each other to quench the anger of the awaited vengeance of the personal experiences of One, Two or Three women and men alike.
The entire Khasi community does not represent anyone’s father, neither do we represent someone’s ex-husband, nor the men who were responsible for all of the personal individual traumas.
Irresponsible reporting is burning not just this state, but the entire Northeast down. The diabolical pen one adorns so proudly has directly or indirectly cost lives, amputated some, and put many at risk. The yard-stick of reporting is becoming dangerous.
The formula has brought fame and fortune to many, but the bloodbath that has erupted in the past, and one that may erupt from it is something that the ones in the past did not anticipated, while we in the contemporary certainly do not deserve.
The Last Dissection:
While in Social-media, you have ignited the fire of communal conflict, dubbing the fights between the boys as a racial attack – “The attackers, allegedly tribal boys with masks. . . The fact that such attackers and trouble mongers since 1979. . .” and immediately days later in the same newspaper printed “the father of the victim was exasperated while talking about the social media messages with communal overtone”. The fire and the fire-extinguisher are provided by the same source through different forums. This is the same as China’s scheme with the virus. Spread the virus, and then sell the PPEs and ventilators to treat the virus.
In 2018, the Sweeper’s lane issue was addressed as, “Communal tinderbox driven by Tribal angst” while a year later in 2019, she stated that the area is “Horribly congested, and a den of crime and gambling and unsafe for pedestrians at night. An area has been designated for them and even houses built for them in another part of the city but they won’t move. Why are they allowed this special privilege?” which is most probably an attempt to infuriate another clash for another Sensational News (as 2018 brought in coverage from National Media and delegates from the Government of Punjab) but failed.
(We all knew our Government was dragging the Issue till the next election. It has always been that way).
In conclusion, I appeal to all my friends, let us not be too busy in identifying and feeling the horrific wounds of the yesteryears. We all have a story. It’s not a story-writing competition. Let us not be swayed by women and men who cannot move on, neither should we help immortalise their personal prejudices. Let us not ruin years of friendships and relationships over-night by hollow opinions. If we keep falling into this bog of communal trap, our children and grandchildren will never know peace, and by that time thirty to forty years from now, these prophets of hatred will be chilling inside their graves, while we continue to fight fights we don’t even know why, and how it existed in the very first place.
Mayborn Lyngdoh R.