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New Delhi: To veteran Meghalaya journalist Patricia Mukhim, the truth that a name for cessation of violence towards non-tribals may invite fees of “communal disharmony” stays inscrutable.
“Unlike many people who were born after 1979, I saw the communal riots, the tension, the kind of violence that was perpetrated on non-tribal residents of Shillong, including those who have lived here for years and decades. I have been seeing this,” Mukhim, 68, advised TOI hours after the SC judgment quashing the FIR towards her.
In 1979, seven years after Meghalaya bought statehood, Shillong was torn aside by riots focusing on Bengalis. In 1987, the hill city was rocked by assaults on Nepalis, in 1992 towards Biharis, and in 2018 towards Dalit Sikhs. “It is not a nice thing for people to live in constant fear, to feel they are citizens of a lesser world just because they are non-tribals in a tribal-majority state … I called for cessation of violence, I called for the rule of law, and for human rights. And I think I was well within my rights but some people thought I was trying to create communal disharmony.”
In July final yr, six boys — Arindam Deb, Subharashi Das Paspurkayastha, Saptarshi Das Purkayastha, Binak Deb, Bishal Ghosh and Prittish Deb — have been hit with iron rods and sticks once they have been enjoying basketball by some 25 boys, “unidentified” thus far. “Those who assaulted apparently said basketball is a contact sport and they were not maintaining social distancing. Even if that were true, they could have just spoken to the boys, why assault them? And so badly on their heads that they got bad injuries,” Mukhim mentioned on Thursday.
In the Facebook publish on the centre of the controversy, she had sought accountability from the Dorbar Shnong (highly effective village councils in Khasi and Garo societies), police and the state authorities. “The fact that such attackers and trouble mongers since 1979 have never been arrested and if arrested never penalised according to law suggests that Meghalaya has been a failed state for a long time now,” she had posted on July four final yr. “And what about the Dorbar Shnong of the area? Don’t they have their eyes and ears to the ground? Don’t they know the criminal elements in their jurisdiction? Should they not lead the charge and identify those murderous elements? This is the time to rise above community interests, caste and creed and call out for justice.”
Two days after that, the headman and secretary of the Lawsohtun Dorbar Shnong in Shillong, underneath whose jurisdiction the assault passed off, filed a grievance towards Mukhim saying her publish would incite “communal disharmony”. When she approached the Meghalaya excessive courtroom to quash the FIR, it had dismissed her plea on November 10 final yr.
“My stand has been vindicated by the Supreme Court,” Mukhim, who was conferred the Padma Shri in 2000 for her social work, mentioned on Thursday. “I am so grateful that freedom of speech and expression is being guarded because it’s one fundamental right that we have that is so precious to us, first, as mediapersons and, second, as citizens. I can’t sit by and watch injustice happen … I have to do something.”


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