Expressing their concern on the issue of illegal immigrants, The Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) on Thursday maintained that it is not against the Bengalis from West Bengal but is against the flow of illegal immigrants to the state.
“The people of West Bengal have no problem with the people of Meghalaya neither us with them. The problem is with the illegal immigrants staying in Meghalaya and migrating to West Bengal as they are the ones who are creating problems. They are trying to polarize the people of Meghalaya and people from the rest of India which is very wrong,” KSU general secretary, Donald V Thabah said.
He said the KSU, other NGOs, and the indigenous community as a whole are not against Bengalis from West Bengal. “But we are against the flow of illegal immigrants into our state, which can render us a minority in our own state,” Thabah said.
Thabah further stated that the KSU does not take matters into its own hands but is demanding from both the Centre and state governments to implement effective mechanisms to protect the minority Khasi people, who are only 14 lakhs in population.
“With the flow of illegal immigration, we need more laws to protect ourselves. Yes, the Sixth Schedule is there but it is not like a wall to protect the Khasi people but only to empower the traditional institutions,” he said.
The KSU leader also slammed the groups from Kolkata, who staged a protest march to the Meghalaya House for trying to create communal tension in the state.
He said by KSU hanging banners that does not mean it will disrupt the puja festival. “We understand the gravity of the situation as COVID-19 is still spreading in our state but we are hanging banners to send a clear message,” he said.
“Some people are being misled as the banners did not only say about Bangladeshis but also about the murder of KSU member (L) Lurshai Hynniewta at Ichamati, Citizenship Amendment Act and Inner Line Permit,” he said.
Thabah also admitted that there are Bengalis in Khasi Hills since British time but very negligible in number. He said a massive way of illegal immigration took place after 1971 that also led to a clash.
“That is why we have been demanding that the cut off year for determining who is a genuine citizen of Meghalaya should be 1971. If that is being implemented we will understand who is a citizen of the state and who is not,” he said.
Meanwhile, the KSU general secretary said had the laws like the ILP been implemented since 1985, Meghalaya would have been one of the peaceful states in the country.
“We have no one else to blame but the government. Tribal states like Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Manipur, are being endowed by the ILP as it is being understood that such mechanism will not only be for the protection of tribal groups present there but also to ensure that the state becomes and remain peaceful,” he said.
Thabah said despite the fact that the KSU did not raise any hue and cry on the killing of its member in Ichamati on February 28, this year after understanding that the police will do their work, there are groups from the certain community which are trying to instigate the non-tribal community in the state and West Bengal.
He said these people started sending memorandums to Prime Minister, Governor and made baseless allegations claiming that there were gross violations of human rights in Ichamati whereby women and children are being profiled and targeted.
“How do these people know that Meghalaya government, police, district councils, and NGOs are hands in glove in discriminating the Hindu families? Their main objective is very clear that they are trying to pain religious tone to their statements,” he stated.