The increase in the rate of crime in Shillong, in the last few months, have stunned the populace with disbelieve. The Police are clueless and the people of Shillong seem to be in a daze. While no organization or NGOs has come out with condemnation of the recent increase in the crime rate in the city, the people are behaving like zombies without feelings, expressionless, non-reactive to everything around them. They murmur in hushed voices, keep aside everything that is disturbing, and say, “Lucky it was not us.” However, where are we heading to and what kind of society is being built for the future generations? Who is to be blamed for the situation? Why is this beautiful and peaceful city turning into a wardrobe full of dead skeletons? In addition, amidst rumors of a change in leadership in the state, what is this instability prone government doing, except for reviewing the situation all the time? ‘Reviewing the Law and Order situation’ that is their famous line. Well, what else can they do except for reviewing the situations? Nothing! They are stuck in their own vicious circle they created. As Mr. P.A. Sangma once said, that the politicians in the North-east, are hand in glove with the radical elements, and the nexus has increased over the years. How can the guns, be turned to the very guns that catapulted them to the position of power?
There is an acute Law and order problem at hand, which the administration denies all the time though. However, ask the common man how does he feel and he can go on and on, on how, ‘Shillong was once’. Statistics does not matter to him; he just knows he does not feel safe anymore. Life is difficult for him, he feels restricted, as he cannot speak out either; there are no jobs for him, government or private. The government, the unsocial elements, batter him, there is no justice in the Court of Law, and the economic conditions are drilling a hole in his pocket. Where does the common man go? Highly qualified youths are just roaming around hankering for work, serving part time in lowly paid jobs. I was shocked to find that, in a recently called job interview for a simple Linesman in one of the government department people whose qualification was fit enough for a post of an officer had applied for the same. The common man is frustrated, as he knows that he is nowhere near the ‘power circle’ either, nor is he a son or a daughter, neither a niece nor a nephew of some minister or a bureaucrat. He has come to a passive acceptance that he is supposed to suffer in quiet, reconciled to his fate. However, a few do not. They take up the gun and wreck vengeance on the society, which they feel has deprived them of what was theirs. Now this is no justification for what they are doing, their act is condemnable; nothing in the world can justify killing or looting. However, it should actually be a food for thought for the people in governance. The disparity in the distribution of wealth and opportunities in the society has brought the situation to this brink. Today Shillong has become haven for the criminals and directionless youths. With no convictions taking place either, criminals are roaming around openly. In fact, even the unwanted elements of neighboring states and country are finding Shillong a cozy hide out.
However, it is a wrong idea that all the money is with the business community. For a change, one should look beyond them. Who are the ones having more money then the viable means of their income? Who are the ones capturing all the jobs? Who are the ones benefiting maximum from the opportunities, incentives and the grants announced for the North East? Isn’t it the ‘Power’ and the coterie around it? In fact, the major chunk of the money from any deal or transaction goes to the corrupt bureaucrat and the politician in advance without any involvement of their sweat and blood, just because they have the discretionary power.
The situation today in Meghalaya is the direct result of what has been happening in the state for the last thirty odd years or so. There is negligible development, lack of employment, no generation, blatant and open corruption leading to unequal distribution of wealth and opportunities. There is nothing as fair play left or anything that says ‘let the best man win’ attitude in our society. When someone wins if he is better, it is still acceptable but if someone wins because he has better connections then it is rather difficult to digest and this breeds contempt among the youth who lacks resilience to digest this injustice. He just sees the Power and the coterie prospering and anger sets in. This anger becomes the fomenting ground for militants and gun totting youths. They enjoy the taste of money and the power of the gun, dowsed completely by the spoils. While no convictions by the courts, helps them to get bolder and bolder. Until one day, they are themselves, found dead in some shoot out or killed by the members of their own gang.
What has happened to the System of our country? What has happened to the government, the judiciary? They seem to be completely paralyzed and inefficient and more helpless then the powerless common man. Look at the case of Gujarat, religious militants are running amok with the assistance of the people in power. While the Centre just looks the other way, ignoring what is blatantly proven, by the media, by reports, by the pathetic state of the minority community there. It seems Fairness and Justice has no part to play, only vote banks matter in political decisions. However, they do not realize, that in a society as diverse as ours it is only democratic norms, fair play and secular attitude that can help it to survive and prosper. I am sure by what has happened in Gujarat, it will only create more anger and vengeance in society and if the Centre had acted fairly it could have soothed to the great extent the feelings of the minority community. However, it was not to be, and the seed of retaliation planted by the unfairness of the System in the country. I am sure, Gujarat will not be free of communal strife for a very long time to come.
There should be fairness in all matters of governance irrespective of caste or creed, with no appeasement to any community. One rule of law for all – including for the people in position of Power and Authority – can only give a sense of justice and fair play to the people. Right to information and awareness can help the people to be in knowledge of what is happening with in the government. What the government is doing with public finances, who are the gainers and by what means? Only in a situation as this, corruption can be contained largely and can bring about, an equal distribution of wealth and opportunities to the people.
It is time that the elders of the society, the responsible, and the governing authorities wake up to this hard reality, that the guns that are killing innocent man today could turn to them too. The Political, social and economical conditions in Shillong have become the breeding ground and safe haven for gun totting youths, from in and around the state too. Unless, there is a thrust on development, on economic prosperity, on containing corruption, on creating employment, and finally on fairness at all costs with a firm hand of Law, the situation will not improve. Moreover, it is time that the Political game of ‘Musical Chair’ stopped and the government should come down to business and start functioning rather then hibernating from one political take-over to another. The North-East has been a thoroughly pampered lot, it is time the Economic Package and the grants announced by the Centre, should be fully and properly implemented and not allowed to rust in files, so that the local business prospers and the people of the state are benefited.