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CAA protests eclipsed other events in Meghalaya
Raju Das
 SHILLONG, Dec 31 - The year 2019 revolved mainly around the issue of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the people protested against it throughout the year, eclipsing other events.

At the beginning of 2019, several organisations and political parties opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Right from January this year, rallies were held and opposition against the CAB was registered by different groups in the State.

Even the State BJP legislators supported the opposition to the Bill during a rally held in the State capital. The Khasi Students’ Union had organised a public rally, opposing the CAB, at Motphran with the theme, ‘Say No to CAB’, on January 30.

The rally was part of the North East Students’ Organization (NESO) programme to hold such rallies in every State. The following day another public rally was held by the Confederation of Hynniewtrep Social Organizations at the Students’ Field at Jaiaw to oppose the Bill.

Such rallies periodically paralysed normal life till December 12 when the Bill became an Act and immediately, there were reports of violence and arson from several parts of the State capital. Curfew was imposed and mobile Internet services were suspended by the East Khasi Hills district administration. The mobile Internet service was restored only on December 20 and the curfew was lifted a few days earlier.

The CAA overshadowed other events, especially frequent power outages in the State. Meghalaya, which was a power-surplus State some decades back and sold power to Assam, is now reeling under a severe power crisis.

Right up to April this year, there was loadshedding and after a gap of a few months, there is darkness again with power cuts in the current month. The loadshedding schedule ranged from one to four hours during the daytime and about four hours at night till April this year. In December, there was loadshedding for two hours daily throughout the State.

Some other major events include the one in February when the CBI virtually set up its headquarters here to investigate the Saradha scam. A number of people ranging from former Kolkata Police chief Rajeev Kumar and others were grilled at its anti-corruption branch at Oakland.

In the same month, the district council elections were held and the regional parties went on to form the Khasi Hills council. In March, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma presented a deficit budget of Rs 1,323 crore in the Assembly today for the fiscal year, 2019-20.

During May, in a repeat of the 2014 poll results in Meghalaya, the National People’s Party (NPP) and the Congress retained the Tura and Shillong Lok Sabha seats respectively. Throughout the country, the BJP won the general elections in May with a thumping majority.

On July 12, the long and costly rescue operation at the Ksan coal mine in Jaintia Hills came to a close after seven months following approval from the Supreme Court. It cost several crores of rupees to the State Government with the recovery of only a few bodies out of the many who drowned in the rat-hole coal mine.

On October 11, the State received the shocking news of Archbishop Dominic Jala’s demise in a road accident in Colussa County, United States.

Later, the State had its usual share of festivals like Durga Puja, Id, the Cherry Blossom carnival and Christmas till December this year.

Meanwhile, the CAA issue still has not petered out with people of the State demanding implementation of the inner line permit (ILP) system in Meghalaya. The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly unanimously adopted a government resolution to urge the Centre to implement the ILP in the State on December 19. The Centre is yet to respond to this resolution.

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