The state capital of Meghalaya - Shillong erstwhile was known as the Educational hub of Northeast which is not only a fasting fading tag but the city is now embroiled in various educational scams. Although a few students from other states and countries still continue to pursue their studies here, the inflows of visitors not tourists, has increased tremendously for ‘relaxation’ where the numbers at times triple during the weekends for various illegal activities, which includes event managed parties, drugs and prostitution.
The officials from the district administration are doing their best to tackle the menace, but may be not doing enough to bust the racket, which have spread their tentacles in Greater Shillong and its suburbs and also to other headquarters and districts, turning Shillong in particular and Meghalaya in general into a safe haven for drugs and flesh trafficking.
It is strange how the state police and other enforcement branches have failed to curb the trafficking of drugs and other intoxicating substances which is occurring easily across the city, be it through the vendors of various forms, small shops, and others easily doing bulk business on two wheelers and four wheelers alike, parked in commercial locations, some at nooks and corner of the localities. One just needs to name the area like Iewduh (Bara Bazaar), Kyndialad (Police Bazaar), Laban Red Cross, Mawlai, Raisamthieh, Laitumkhrah, Jharupara, Barik, Crinoline and spots like educational institutions, commercial complexes where the traffickers can be spotted at any time of the day.
The addiction also includes the alcohol, which is easily available round the clock in the city, Shillong is not only the hub of Educational Institutions but also the headquarters for all forms of anti social activities, where illicit liquor is openly available at most localities, Marijuana vendors are present in every tourist spot and educational institution, in some selected spots within the city and suburbs even drugs are easily available; strangely all are thriving in their business.
Most of the students from other states studying here have tagged Shillong as the ‘Las Vegas of North East’ for the free flood of wine and alcohol, easy availability of drugs and sex workers, smoking all types of intoxicating substances freely without any interference from any quarter.
Next come the fresh trade, which is not legalized in Meghalaya, but due to the mushrooming of the hotels and guest houses, worse so, this is happening in some residential areas, and with the entry of Oyo into Meghalaya, it is not far that the state capital - Shillong too will be like Simla and Himachal Pradesh where local residents are facing a drinking water crisis. This year, requests had to be made in these two tourist hotspots for the tourists to leave so that the locals can have the water. The rampant and unplanned mushrooming of such guest houses in residential areas is not at all healthy.
In the past, the locals could not stay in the hotel or guest houses on an hourly basis, mainly for prostitution, but now the local book the rooms through Oyo and not one can stop them from staying in hotel or guest houses for all such anti-social activities.
The commercial areas like Kyndialad (Police Bazaar) have turned into pickup points once night falls, and many simply enter the parked vehicles and threaten the occupants to pay or the girls will shout out that they are being molested and many in fear of the situation have fallen victim to such notorious gangs.
The vernacular journalist turned local film maker - Command Shangpliang is all set to grab the attention of the Government regarding the hardship and threat that young girls face in the state capital of Meghalaya and has suggested the legalization of the flesh trade through his local film entitled ‘9lad’ that is Kyndialad (Police Bazaar), the commercial hotspot of the state. The film is also to mark the seventh anniversary of Meghalaya Film Makers Association.
It may be recalled that the night life of Meghalaya is almost nil, there were many attempts made by various organizations, encouraging the stakeholders to keep their respective stalls open longer, however, the inability of the district administration to provide security has resulted in the shopkeepers being unwilling to run businesses later into the night in the sleepy and cold Shillong.
In an attempt to decentralize the state’s biggest marketplace – Iewduh (Bara Bazaar), the government of then Chief Minister, BB Lyngdoh had allowed the locality to set up markets, which has spilled over into the vendors and hawkers from nook and corner, including the commercial areas like Kyndialad which in turn resulted in the mushrooming of fast-food stalls which have now choked the public footpaths.
In view of the demand, many fast food stalls also expanded to selling banned substances including drugs and illicit alcohol, turning their place of business into the favourite hangouts for commercial vehicle drivers and other youths who in turn transform the place into an open market for the flesh trade.
The state is still recovering from the shock of the infamous case of the trafficking of a 14 year old minor girl, involving former militant leader turned politician Julius Dorphang. Of course this is not a unique case as there are various trafficking cases registered in the state which only shows that even in matrilineal Meghalaya, women are not at all safe and some are either forced into the flesh trade while others are doing it willing. However, in most cases they are also mentally and physically being abused. This is the backdrop on which the proposed film is being mooted.
There is no denial that the state capital of Meghalaya – Shillong is indeed the city of crime and sex, where every illegal transaction from arms and ammunition, fake currency to drugs, flesh trade to smuggling, one needs to name it, are being carried out in the wide open below the very nose of the district authorities. Only a few end up in the net of Police, while most of it go unhindered.
How can one not suspect a nexus between the authorities and the antisocial elements while both the Central and State Intelligences agencies are on the chase day in and out, yet such vested interest section of the society could easily spread their tentacles of such organized crimes in the state capital?
Most of the headquarters of religious institutions of all faith, best of educational institutions, heads of government departments, Defense and Home Affairs are crowded in Shillong, yet different criminal gangs have turned the city into their holiday destination, for purchase of arms and cracking deals, while having easy available access to alcohol and sex workers at their choice of the Hotels and lodges at the most discreet location(s).
Manipur came out from the shadow of such anti-social activities due to the Mother’s Union who took the restoration of pride of their state on a war footing. While Meghalaya has the maximum registered NGOs, Pressure Groups and Civic Societies, yet its capital is now considered the city of crime and sex.