The problems caused by any breakdown of law and order always affects the farmers, who always feel the first pinch as most of the seasonal perishable produces- vegetables and fruits are simply thrown away or turned into fodder for cattle. The other most affected section in the society comprises the daily wage earners. However the prolonged effects like hysteria hits the tourism industry the most and other sectors of trade and commerce.
It is unfortunate that the recent violence which erupted between police personnel and an angry mob which was trying to storm the Sweepers’ Colony at Them Iew Mawlong had occurred at this particular point of time which is supposed to be the peak of tourism season, where the domestic tourists visit Shillong to escape the heat wave. Shillong has become a favourite destination after the unrest in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The impact was huge for a large number of tourists in Shillong, particularly those visiting Cherrapunjee and Dawki or Mawlynnong on June 2, 2018 when District Magistrate East Khasi Hills district Peter S Dkhar imposed curfew by 4 pm. All the tourists were stranded at Upper Shillong where all the guest houses and resorts where fully booked for the first time.
As the city is slowly limping back to normalcy, there is very little activity in the hotels and guest houses in the city which were doing brisk business before the breakdown of law and order from June 1 to June 5 last. Sadly there are very few fresh bookings being registered at these hotels and guest houses as of now. Above that most hotels in the state capital are not encouraging the tourists, as most of them were requested to leave the curfew bound city.
If peace would not have been disturbed due to rumours which spread after a road - side altercation, Shillong this time would have been hosting tourists who would have otherwise been making their way to Shimla, the Queen of Hills station. The water scarcity in Shimla would have prompted tourists to leave Shimla, especially after they have been were requested to leave and other bookings being cancelled.
The incumbent Chief Minister, Conrad Kongkal Sangma has in the past done his best to promote tourism in Meghalaya. The present Umiam View point was one of the 11 tourists spot identified by Conrad when he was in the Tourism Task Force. Now under his leadership there were great expectations that the tourism infrastructure in Meghalaya will see vast improvement. However, it is an undeniable fact that peace and tranquility are prerequisites of development, promotion and marketing of Meghalaya as a tourist destination.
Besides the tourism industry even the general public also has to suffer through the resultant high cost of all daily essential commodities. In spite of the direction of the District Magistrate, there is no checking conducted by the Inspectors to control the pricing, taking full advantage of inactivity of the district administration. The business owners were charging almost three times of normal prices, as of now the situation has normalised, the high pricing as of now is attributed to the flood in Assam resulting in shortages of supply.
This time the situation as controlled early as most of the general masses understand the adverse impact of a breakdown of law and order and have actively participated in restoring peace and harmony by opposing the rumour mongers and those spreading fake news while at the same time not allowing the trouble to escalate.
As of now although the residents of Them Iew Mawlong or the Punjabi Lane refuse to be relocated, they have welcomed the improvement of the areas is turning out to be at Status Quo. It also means that a solution to the problem will take a little longer than what was initially expected. As of now Khasi Students’ Union has objected to the interference of a third party, the representative of the Sikhs. This expression through peaceful means is a welcome sign and ironing out the issues at hand can lead to a peaceful situation. This also means the citizens in Meghalaya are now more tolerant and can discuss issues across the table.
The change of attitude of the general masses which are now more peace loving and productive will only help the government to restore normalcy at the earliest. The Ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance led by the National People’s Party headed by Conrad Kongkal Sangma should take full advantage of this changing mind set to develop tourism in the state and also create employment opportunities for the youth. This will divert them towards achieving the targets rather than indulgence in creating trouble in the State.