Tribal militant outfit opposed Shillong civic polls

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Shillong, Sep 16 (UNI) The outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today reiterated its opposition to holding the civic polls.

The Meghalaya government has proposed to hold the long-pending Shillong Municipal elections.

''The proposed civic polls are not different from the policy of divide and rule adopted by the British. The policy of the central government is to curb the traditional system of governance in the state,'' HNLC publicity secretary Sainkupar Nongtraw said.

The Shillong municipality elections, last held under undivided Assam in 1967, will now be held by the year-end if a consensus is reached between traditional institution heads.

In 1972, after Meghalaya attained statehood, the elections were opposed by traditional heads who argued election of ward commissioners would dilute their power.

The Supreme Court had in fact directed the state government to hold the civic polls. In 2000, the government had ordered holding of Municipal elections and only one Ananta Dey had filed his nominations and was elected unopposed. Dey, however, was gunned down by HNLC militants soon after.

The majority of local people, the powerful Khasi Students' Union, local durbars and others were opposed to the polls. They fear that the municipality will go under the control of non-tribals who dominate several localities in the municipality which excludes Khasi-dominated areas.

Criticising Urban Affairs Minister Paul Lyngdoh, the militant outfit said the minister is concerned only about cleanliness of the city without thinking of the future impact that the scheme would have on the people.

Mr Lyngdoh had told reporters that the government was awaiting a report of the 14-member Working Group on Shillong Civic Poll to facilitate holding of the Municipal elections.

The working group comprises traditional heads and officials from the Urban Affairs department and Shillong Municipal Board.

''The election of a civic body would give some kind of legal status to heads of traditional institutions,'' Mr Lyngdoh said, adding that the elections are necessary to get the much-needed fund to implement schemes,'' Lyngdoh said at a press conference.

Under the Centrally-sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewable Mission (JNNURM) scheme the Municipality is the implementing agency for most of the schemes.

The state capital is one among 63 other cities identified throughout the country to get a face-lift under the JNNURM scheme.

Rs 3,759.50 lakh had already been sanctioned to the Urban Affairs department for urban development project.

In 1973, the state government had notified in the gazette that no part of Shillong municipality will be deemed to be under the jurisdiction of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC).

It was on this ground that the Supreme Court had rejected the state government's petition challenging the direction to hold the polls.

UNI RRK PL KLC1744

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