SHILLONG, Aug 11: The Thma U Rangli-Juki TUR has condemned the many intolerant residents and the dorbar of Shnong Madan iingsyiem, Mylliem who allegedly tried to prevent the cremation of (Late) Kulam Nongrum (President Sengbah ki Nongshad Nongkheiñ) in accordance with Niam Khasi faith in his village.
According to TUR, It was only after the intervention of the District administration and an offer of space by Seng Khasi Hima Mylliem that Late Nongrum could be cremated.
“The fundamentalist and intolerant behaviour of the some of the majority of the village ensured that the solemn funeral procession was also an occasion for hurling insults on the adherents of the indigenous faith,” TUR leader, Angela Rangad said here on Friday while claiming that this was not an aberration and has been happening in that area for the last 20 odd years.
“This climate of intolerance has meant that most adherents of Niam Khasi in this area have had no choice but to bury their dead going against their deeply held religious belief of Cremation” she added. Rangad said that even intervention by the Lyngdoh - traditional priest to give land for the last rites to followers of Niam Khasi of the area, has been a target of a legal civil suit as well as violent attack in September 2016, where the village majority desecrated the allotted space and prevented Niam Khasi people from performing their rituals. Today after the family was refused land for cremation by the dorbar, they approached the Seng Khasi who gave them space at the private property of the iing Seng.
Rangad also pointed out that TUR as an organization which believes in secular polity and religious freedom, has been resisting the rise of Hindutva fascism and intolerance in India as well as in Meghalaya.
It has even protested the attempts by the BJP run government to enact anti minority anti-conversion laws and anti cow slaughter laws to appease Hindu majority. But we cannot sit silent when the same persecuted religious minority when it becomes a majority (like in Meghalaya) behaves in the same authoritarian and fascist way.
Rangad opined that the majority needs to acknowledge and respect culture, faith and tradition of minorities of whichever persuasion they belong. “We cannot let the virus of religious communal polarization spread in our society,” she said.
TUR maintains that this action by the village majority also points to the arbitrary exercise of power by traditional village administration and village headmen. TUR in the past had called for a proper gender just, secular, democratic reform of traditional village administration which misuses so called tradition to hide its illegal and unethical behavior. A suitably democratic, gender just VAB is the need of the hour.