After two months of widespread violence targeting non-tribals, peace appears to be slowly creeping into the capital of Meghalaya. The past two weeks, although not free from agitation by pro-ILP groups, have remained incident-free. The government’s firm attitude against violators of the law has appeared to have worked in restraining subversive elements from resorting to attacks on soft targets. Onset of the season of festivals might have played a role too. Pro-ILP NGOs from Garo Hills already suspended their agitation in the region for the traditional Wangala festival even as they remained ‘firm’ on the demand for inner line permit (ILP). Next comes Christmas and New Year, the biggest festivals of the North-eastern hill tribes, majority of whom are Christians. Perpetrators of violence taking advantage of the situation (pro-ILP agitation) would possibly now be scared of the prevailing mood which is against the law breakers, if not against ILP.
In the meantime, the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) has come forward to act as a mediator to break the stalemate. The Council will take up the matter with heads of the traditional institutions, most of whom are believed to be in favour of a mechanism like ILP. The tribal chiefs’ inclination towards ILP is because of the fact that the high-level committee headed by then deputy chief minister Bindo M Lanong solicited a role of the traditional institutions in implementing ILP in the state. As such they, who command the voice of lakhs of rural population, hold the key to the current movement on ILP. While the pressure groups have banked on the traditional heads’ support in dragging the agitation for over two months on the trot, the KHADC is now hoping for a solution through the same folk. Role of the state government, increasingly seen “adamant” in respect of the current situation, in inspiring the KHADC to go extra mile to reach out to the pro-ILP voices is evident. The ‘strategy’ might work out since KHADC, although slammed as a ‘traitor’ for rejecting a resolution on ILP recently, is administratively closer to the traditional chiefs unlike the government.