SHILLONG, Jan 31 � Religion may have been one of the sparks that ignited the communal flare-up between the Rabha and Garo Communities, but an unscripted religion of India � cricket � is helping build bonds and camaraderie between the two sides.
Garos and Rabhas fought it out in a 20-20 cricket match in strife-torn Resubelpara in East Garo Hills district, Meghalaya, on Martyr�s Day on January 30 that commemorates the death anniversary of the greatest proponent of non-violence in the world � Mahatma Gandhi.
The match was held between Baijengdoba-XI and Resubelpara-XI at Resubelpara Stadium with a capacity of about 10,000 crowd from both Rabha and Garo communities from at least six nearby villages thronging the stadium to cheer their favourite team. Resubelpara-XI won the match by ten runs in a stiff battle.
Happily, in both the teams there were equal numbers of representation from the Garo and Rabha communities. In fact, police and BSF personnel were also in the teams from both the communities.
�There is lot of trauma and shock in the two communities. And we thought cricket can provide solace to ease the grief to a little extent as the sport is considered as some sort of a religion in India,� DIG Border Security Force Tura sector, Gajendra Singh Chaudhary told the Assam Tribune over phone from Tura.
The idea to have the match was mooted first by the BSF after carefully gauging the ground situation in which the border guarding officers thought that the villagers needed an outlet to move on with life. The force was equally supported by the district administration.
�Cricket is perfect. It is part of the cultural way of life in India now. Cricket we thought would provide the necessary balm. So we organised the match with representation from both communities. Moreover, there were cultural programmes showcasing the best of both the communities,� Chaudhary said.
During the event, Rural Development Minister, Frankenstein Momin was also present. He was accompanied by local NCP MLA, TD Shira.
The ethnic clash between the two communities left ten people dead, many more injured and about 50,000 people displaced so far. The BSF say anti-social elements are still trying to stoke the embers of the clash.
�We are taking elders from both communities to areas where they hear about rumours. And they speak to their respective community members to find out the truth,� said.
The eight companies of BSF and the Army deployed in the area are also trying to bring in psychiatrists from Guwahati, in some of the villages that have been ravaged by the violence, to provide counselling.
It is not certain when the festering wounds of both communities would heal, but the BSF say that with a little prayer, a little bit of trust and love both communities would find their own spaces, who share so much in common.