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Decades-long opposition to railways broken

By Raju Das
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SHILLONG, Dec 31 � The year 2014 in Meghalaya is more significant from the Garo Hills context because the impoverished region witnessed unprecedented bloodshed, but again the region saw itself wending historically towards the rest of the world with the first train being flagged off on November 29.

The 131 km Mendipathar-Guwahati railway line is a historic event not just because it is Meghalaya�s first rail network post independence, but also because in a region with poor socio-economic indices it had other significance.

First, the rail network has broken the decades-long opposition against the Railways by organisations in the State arguing it would bring in influx. More importantly, for several decades terrorists, militants and criminals of all hues hoisted the poor developmental indicators of the region on one shoulder and guns on the other and claimed to have the mandate of the people to fight on their behalf for equal opportunity.

However, in the process, most of these elements pursued their self-interest and unleashed terror on the hapless people. The year 2014 was particularly brutal as senseless killings by these elements took the lives of several innocent people. There were extortions, kidnappings and other forms of violence and at times Garo Hills cocooned into a world of its own.

Apart from terrorism and militancy, nature was also unkind to the region as flash flood and landslides in September took the lives of over 60 people and destroyed property several times that number, mostly in West Garo Hills. It was one of the worst natural calamities in the State�s history.

The year also witnessed a significant order by the National Green Tribunal which passed an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya for causing environmental damages. Earlier this year, The Dalai Lama paid a visit to the State during the convocation of the Martin Luther Christian University.

Meanwhile, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council scripted a new chapter in its 62-year-old history by electing for the first time a woman, Theilina S Thangkhiew, as its chairperson. Another woman, Wansuk Syiem retained her seat at the Rayja Sabha.

However, yet another woman and Social Welfare Minister Deborah Ch Marak appeared before a local court in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills after she was charge-sheeted for her alleged links with a terrorist outfit.

Which brings us again to the Garo Hills and at the fag-end of the year, the State Government did manage to disarm a militant group from the region � Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and its breakaway faction � on December 15 after negotiations that underwent for years.

The ANVC reportedly called the home coming event its �Ecdysis� � in Zoology, it is the process of shedding the old skin or casting off the outer cuticle (in insects and other arthropods).

And all along this, deaths and the constant pressure put on by the security forces on the terrorists, Home Minister Roshan Warjri put in her papers owning moral responsibility for the losses. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is yet to decide on her replacement and is holding the Home portfolio.

Sangma on the political front did have a tough year with his own party colleagues from the Congress grumbling silently to replace him. They failed in their effort like on several other occasions.

The Chief Minister after consolidating his position also called out to other militant groups for talks like the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council and now the ground works are being laid for the talks to move ahead.

Therefore, in 2015 some would like to undergo Ecdysis, others take wings or some more others simply chug away happily, as Bijay K Marak, the driver of the Mendipathar-Guwahati train from the Garo community did � but all hopefully towards better times where there would be peace and prosperity.

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Decades-long opposition to railways broken

SHILLONG, Dec 31 � The year 2014 in Meghalaya is more significant from the Garo Hills context because the impoverished region witnessed unprecedented bloodshed, but again the region saw itself wending historically towards the rest of the world with the first train being flagged off on November 29.

The 131 km Mendipathar-Guwahati railway line is a historic event not just because it is Meghalaya�s first rail network post independence, but also because in a region with poor socio-economic indices it had other significance.

First, the rail network has broken the decades-long opposition against the Railways by organisations in the State arguing it would bring in influx. More importantly, for several decades terrorists, militants and criminals of all hues hoisted the poor developmental indicators of the region on one shoulder and guns on the other and claimed to have the mandate of the people to fight on their behalf for equal opportunity.

However, in the process, most of these elements pursued their self-interest and unleashed terror on the hapless people. The year 2014 was particularly brutal as senseless killings by these elements took the lives of several innocent people. There were extortions, kidnappings and other forms of violence and at times Garo Hills cocooned into a world of its own.

Apart from terrorism and militancy, nature was also unkind to the region as flash flood and landslides in September took the lives of over 60 people and destroyed property several times that number, mostly in West Garo Hills. It was one of the worst natural calamities in the State�s history.

The year also witnessed a significant order by the National Green Tribunal which passed an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya for causing environmental damages. Earlier this year, The Dalai Lama paid a visit to the State during the convocation of the Martin Luther Christian University.

Meanwhile, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council scripted a new chapter in its 62-year-old history by electing for the first time a woman, Theilina S Thangkhiew, as its chairperson. Another woman, Wansuk Syiem retained her seat at the Rayja Sabha.

However, yet another woman and Social Welfare Minister Deborah Ch Marak appeared before a local court in Williamnagar, East Garo Hills after she was charge-sheeted for her alleged links with a terrorist outfit.

Which brings us again to the Garo Hills and at the fag-end of the year, the State Government did manage to disarm a militant group from the region � Achik National Volunteers Council (ANVC) and its breakaway faction � on December 15 after negotiations that underwent for years.

The ANVC reportedly called the home coming event its �Ecdysis� � in Zoology, it is the process of shedding the old skin or casting off the outer cuticle (in insects and other arthropods).

And all along this, deaths and the constant pressure put on by the security forces on the terrorists, Home Minister Roshan Warjri put in her papers owning moral responsibility for the losses. Chief Minister Mukul Sangma is yet to decide on her replacement and is holding the Home portfolio.

Sangma on the political front did have a tough year with his own party colleagues from the Congress grumbling silently to replace him. They failed in their effort like on several other occasions.

The Chief Minister after consolidating his position also called out to other militant groups for talks like the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council and now the ground works are being laid for the talks to move ahead.

Therefore, in 2015 some would like to undergo Ecdysis, others take wings or some more others simply chug away happily, as Bijay K Marak, the driver of the Mendipathar-Guwahati train from the Garo community did � but all hopefully towards better times where there would be peace and prosperity.