The Meghalaya government has appealed to all communities to maintain peace and harmony ahead of the festive season after the powerful Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) on Wednesday put up posters racially profiling the Bengali community.
Posters with messages like “All Meghalaya Bengalis are Bangladeshis” and “Khasiland for Khasis; Foreigners Go Away” were put up in state capital Shillong, one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the northeast.
They were later removed by the police who tweeted, “It is hereby informed that banners that were displayed today in public places, have been removed. We request all concerned to kindly co-operate with us in promoting peace and harmony in the state.”
“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,” said Meghalaya Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui.
The incident has 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 on Wednesday 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”.
“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 hellbound to spread the fake narrative,” Mr Thabah said.
“The three youths submitted a memorandum to the governor of Meghalaya which said there is persecution of Bengali Hindus and especially women happening in the Ichamati area. The police investigated and found no truth in it and yet they continue to spread fake narratives,” he said.
The Meghalaya government had recently denied permission to a West Bengal-based organisation which wanted to visit Ichamati to see the condition of the Bengali people living there.