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The ghost of inner line permit (ILP) is going to trouble Meghalaya once again. The new organisation Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) formed mostly by former Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) members has brought signals of turbulence in the state in the coming days. They say the KSU has gone soft on the issue of protecting the rights and interest of indigenous tribals of Khasi-Jaintia region. The KSU, on the other hand, maintains that it had not compromised in its ‘job’ but yet to make its stand clear on the formation of HYC. Apparently, HYC is a new force not going to align with the KSU and its associate groups to pursue its nationalistic agenda. But, the new group where former KSU leaders joined from across the region would not be affective unless it joined hands with others. Even the KSU had to align with 12 other groups of indigenous people to launch the violence-marred agitation last year to demand ILP. They were hell bent on the demand, popularizing slogans such as ‘No ILP, No Rest’, only to admit later that they have understood the technical difficulty in implementing the ILP in the whole state. However, the HYC is not convinced by the 13 groups’ argument that the ‘comprehensive mechanism’ proposed by them would be a better system to control influx into the state.

This is not the first time the state has seen birth of new student or youth group. While the so-far-most-influential KSU claims to represent interests of indigenous tribals of Khasi-Jaintia region, the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) is for all the three indigenous tribes although it is active mostly in the Khasi Hills. Besides, there are others such as Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) and Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM), all active in Khasi-Jaintia Hills with the same agenda. In Jaintia Hills, there is Jaintia Students Union (JSU) and Jaintia Youth Federation (JYF) among others. The Garo Students’ Union (GSU) is a powerful voice in Garo Hills. All these organisations have influence in different regions apart from the KSU and FKJGP, which have strong presence in the capital Shillong. There are many politicians who have roots in the two organisations. United Democratic Party (UDP) leader Paul Lyngdoh (former KSU chief) and Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) leader Ardent Basaiawmoit (former FKJGP chief) are a few among them.

It remains to be seen whether the HYC will end up representing voice of a particular pocket or it will emerge as a strong force like KSU and FKJGP. But, as of now, they are not likely to be able to gain much ground without seeking association from other NGOs, even from the KSU. Whatever be the case, birth of a new group to pursue the demand for ILP and other nationalistic agenda is surely going bring serious threat to the relative peaceful atmosphere in the state. The government must take note of it.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 19, 2014)