SHILLONG, June 13: Terming the Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma and his brother Home Minister, James Sangma as immature and incompetent, the Congress party has demanded that they immediately step[ down.
This demand was made in light of the recent situation in Meghalaya prompting the Meghalaya Pradesh Youth Congress (MPYC) president, Richard Marak to say, “When talking about the issue of work permit to Bangladeshis in the assembly recently, Conrad Sangma stated that only mature thinking would understand this issue. Where is this maturity when instead of handling the unrest in Shillong he passes the buck and blacked out the internet citing fake news.”
Marak also questioned the maturity of the Home Minister James Sangma while pointing out that the latter has a sophisticated cyber crime cell of the police department at the disposal which can track the source of the fake news to bring those wrongdoers to justice, but had instead opted for an internet blackout.
“In the same way, there is an internet blackout in all the five districts of Garo Hills in the ‘anticipation’ of trouble. Everyone in Garo Hills is asking the question, ‘Where/What is the trouble?’ This too in a day and age when everything requires connectivity,” he said.
Marak said that students undergoing online admissions, people filling up exam forms, people whose work depends on using the internet, etc. People are not even able to book their LPG cylinders due to the blackout of SMS services.
“If the sources of fake news had been arrested, then others would not have dared to do the same. On top of that, the internet is not a free service provided by the government, people are paying for the use of these services, will the government or the service providers refund the money for the days that they do not use the services? Is this a nefarious plan by the present government who are hiding something by not arresting the sources of the fake news or is the government curbing the right to free speech by blacking out the internet because people have already begun to show their dissatisfaction with the present government in the various social media platforms?” he said.
Marak went to asked whether this is some marketing gimmick for the SS Netcom owned internet service provider NE Line, owned by the present Chief Minister and his family with his mother being the majority shareholder, to gain more subscribers because this ‘mobile internet blackout’ is not affecting their internet services?
Pointing out that internet is the least of the people’s woes in Garo Hills where the electricity has been playing disco in recent weeks, he said, “We would think that the Power Minister (James) being from Garo Hills, we would at least get some semblance of “uninterrupted” power. The people of Garo Hills are enduring long hours without electricity and frequent powercuts all without any valid reasons. No work can be done uninterrupted. If the Power Minister cannot even get this under control, what is the use of the chair?”
During his tenure, he said that the previous Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma and his government has worked hard to bring peace and progress to the state. Tourism flourished, business flourished and through hard work and cooperation peace returned to the state, including insurgency affected Garo Hills. Even electricity, which is an important part of daily life was stable.
Stating that during the recent elections, the campaign slogans by NPP were “NPP for change”, “New Meghalaya” and “Resurgent Meghalaya”, he said, “The only change we are seeing is incompetence and regression, the only new things we are witnessing is internet blackouts curbing free speech and the only thing resurgent is uncertainty, violence, power cuts, instability and chaos.”
The MPYC president said that the youth of Meghalaya will take to the streets in democratic and non violent protest. He also requested everyone to refrain from spreading any news without proper verification, but instead come out in protest against the right to free speech that is being curbed by this government.