NPP forming govt, interstate border issues, ethnic strife – the year that was for Meghalaya | Latest News India - Hindustan Times

NPP forming govt, interstate border issues, ethnic strife – the year that was for Meghalaya

Dec 28, 2023 09:04 AM IST

NPP forming govt, interstate border issues, ethnic strife – the year that was for Meghalaya

Led by its charismatic young leader Conrad K Sangma, the NPP bagged 26 seats in the 60-member House, seven more than what the party had managed in the 2018 assembly polls.

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The NPP got another shot in the arm in May, when the People's Democratic Front (PDF), along with two MLAs, merged with it, increasing the ruling party’s tally to 28.

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Despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top central ministers campaigning for the BJP, the saffron party could only retain the two seats it had won in 2018.

The Opposition Congress and the TMC secured five seats each, while the newly floated Voice of the People Party (VPP) won four.

Within months of formation of the new government, VPP chief Ardent Basaiawmoit began a fast that lasted for over 200 hours, demanding the Conrad K Sangma-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government constitute an expert committee to review a 51-year-old reservation policy.

The state government announced the constitution of such a panel to review the 1972 policy, which awarded 40 per cent of reserved jobs to Garos, 40 per cent for Khasi-Jaintia tribes, 5 per cent for other tribes and 15 per cent for general category candidates.

The VPP leader maintained that the ratio in terms of job reservation should be proportionate as per the population structure of the state.

Sangma also reconstituted the regional committees in a bid to resolve the remaining six areas of differences along the interstate border with neighbouring Assam.

The committees headed by Deputy Chief Ministers Prestone Tynsong and Sniawbhalang Dhar and Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh have met, but could not make any significant headway due to reported skirmishes along the border.

Last year, Assam and Meghalaya had signed a border pact for the first six areas of differences identified between the two northeastern states.

The talks for the remaining six areas of differences, which include the disputed Langpih area in Meghalaya’s West Khasi Hills, and Mukroh and Lapangap villages in West Jaintia Hills district, are at an advanced stage, officials said.

In September, clashes broke out at Lapangap village and the situation remained tense for weeks, as people of two ethnicities attacked each other with catapults, bows and arrows.

At one point, the Assam Police resorted to firing teargas shells to disperse unruly crowds, which engaged in violence by burning down huts, police had said.

The relocation of residents of the Punjabi Lane area here also made news in Meghalaya during the year, as the state government proposed to shift 342 families from the disputed area to land owned by the Shillong Municipal Board.

People from Punjab, who were brought to Shillong around 200 years ago by the British, live in the area.

After initial reluctance, the residents agreed to the proposed relocation but with certain demands, including the government providing them plots and bearing the cost of constructing their houses.

The genesis of the relocation can be traced to a clash that erupted in the area, after a person was assaulted in May 2018. Thereafter, the Shillong Municipal Board began an exercise to determine the legal residents of the area.

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