Guwahati, Monday, January 18, 2010
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NORTH EAST

Meghalaya bodies decry decision to ban bandhs
Newmai News
 SHILLONG, Jan 17 – The recent decision of the Government of Meghalaya to ban bandhs by terming it as ‘illegal,’ has attracted strong criticism from different organisations.

The Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF) and the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) have strongly criticised the government decision to ban bandhs.

JYF, a prominent pressure group of Jaintia Hills on Sunday said, “Although we respect the decision of the state government, there’s no way that we are going to back off with our agitations if the need arises.”

Pointing to the wrong policies of the government, JYF president, Damewanhii L Rymbai said, “We as pressure groups have no other alternatives but only to resort to agitations.”

Mentionably, recently the state cabinet had taken the decision to prohibit political parties, social organisations or groups from calling bandhs and organising hartals following the Supreme Court ruling declaring all bandhs as illegal and unconstitutional. Also, the notification approved by the cabinet incorporated a clause where media houses are liable for punishment for disseminating information on bandhs and other agitational programmes.

The decision to ban bandhs was taken after Mrinal Talukdar had filed a PIL against the Assam Government due to its failure to take steps against the groups responsible for holding agitations in the state. Another PIL was filed by former KHADC Chief Executive Member HS Shylla in 2005.

Condemning the decision of the government to ban the media houses from publishing reports while disseminating information on bandhs and other agitational programmes in the state, JYF president, Rymbai said, “Nowhere in other parts of the country was such a ban imposed on the media.” He also said that this could be just another tactic of the government to deprive the people of the state of airing their views and opinions.

Meanwhile, the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) has also refused to accept the decision of the cabinet.

FKJGP general secretary, Joe Marwein said that the decision of the cabinet to declare bandhs and agitations by pressure groups as illegal is not acceptable.

Marwein also said that this might be a ploy on the part of the government to do away with all sorts of agitations so that it can go ahead with any decision taken by it in the future reminding that the state is already under pressure from NGOs on controversial issues like uranium mining, power projects and others.