Meghalaya: Year of political uncertainity, fanfare

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Shillong, Dec 30: Meghalaya, the abode of clouds popularly known as the Scotland of the East passed the eventful 2006 comparatively peacefully without any major incidents.

In the political arena, Meghalaya went into rough weather with major crisis in political leadership among the Congress legislators who are the major constituents of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government in the state.

The major upset for the Congress party in the state was the fall of its stalwart D D Lapang which was replaced by his trusted-aide J D Rymbai in mid-June.

Mr Lapang even tried to woo the support of the NCP to retain his power.

Though, Mr Lapang paved way for Mr Rymbai but the political bickering still lingered between the two warring faction of the Congress even after the AICC president Sonia Gandhi intervened.

Ms Gandhi rushed her envoy Maj. (Retd) Ved Prakash who is the Congress observer for Meghalaya to Shillong to patch up both the warring factions but in vain.

The Congress regional partners in the government however backed Mr Rymbai urging the Congress to stop this political wrangling for the development of the state.

Another political upset for the Congress was the humiliating defeat in the Rongjeng assembly by-election in Garo Hills.

Former militant leader of the disbanded A'chik Matgrik Liberation Army Desang M Sangma of the NCP won the by-poll with a whopping margin of 4, 671 votes in a four cornered contest.

Congress suffered another humiliation when its Community and Rural Development Minister Beckstar K Sangma had to quit the government after the NCP MP and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno A Sangma, as Chairman of Central Vigilance and Monitoring Committee, leveled corruption charges against him.

On the health sector, more than 60 lives were claimed by malaria and other diseases this year. However, the figure may be much more as reports from the interiors are yet to come.

Remarkably, crime ratio reduced to 1694 when compared to last year is 2014 cases registered in several police stations across the state.

However, the rape case alarmingly increased this year but the exact figure was not revealed. The state witnessed a series of road mishaps claiming more than 50 lives against last year 51. On insurgency, Meghalaya police gave a blow to North East-based insurgents groups in the state. The Manipur-based United National Liberation Front suffered a jolt when the state Special Operation Team busted its hide-out in the city arresting four UNLF cadres and seized Rs 21 lakh besides, exposing the nexus between the insurgent outfit and the Manipur government.

The ULFA cadres who made Garo Hills as their ''safe sanctuary'' also suffered major setback when the Naga regiment along with the state police busted some of their hideouts and seized huge number of arms and ammunitions and incriminating documents.

Many ULFA cadres were either arrested or killed in the encounter with security forces On the other hand Garo Hills remained peaceful with the government of India extending the cease-fire with banned A'chik National Volunteers Council for another year with from July 10 this year.

However, the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) losing ground in the Eastern part of Meghalaya with its cadres preferred to surrender than made in Bangladesh.

At least, 30 HNLC cadres have surrendered to the authorities this year.

Meghalaya police received laurels by detecting large numbers of suspected Bangladeshi nationals more than 500 from the state capital and pushed them out to Asom.

The state also witnessed considerable unrest over the mining of Uranium and fencing of the Indo-Bangla border in the state.

Influential Garo Students' Union has launched agitation demanding state government host winter assembly session at Tura in West Garo Hills district as agreed before the formation of the state of Meghalaya in 1972.

Meghalaya has made history of sorts by entering the Guinness Book of World Record on October 28, when 7, 951 people broke the world record drumbeat earlier held by Po Leung Kuk from Hong Kong as a part of Meghalaya Autumn festival.

Meghalaya was agog with unusual enthusiasm in the field of music, festivals, fare during the year celebrated artists from abroad presented their recitals in different forms which included Graham Russel and Russel Hitchcok of Air Supply from Australia, Paul Di Anno, the former lead vocalist of Iron Maiden and the Air Warriors orchestra of the Indian Air Force.


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