Authorities are very prompt, sometimes. In some cases, such promptness ‘for the sake of public’ can be taken with a pinch of salt. There is political agenda, there are hidden motives. It took no time for Meghalaya government to go all out against neighbouring Assam, now ruled by the BJP, over an incident of eviction of a couple of rented houses. A cabinet meeting and condemnation from chief minister Mukul Sangma within hours of the incident was quite prompt in this region of ‘Lahe Lahe’ (going slow). People of the state would want such promptness to be shown on every aspect, right from probing the education scam to attending to woes of border villagers living in the interiors.

There are hundreds of villages along Meghalaya-Assam border facing a lot of hardship due to the border dispute between the two states. Due to the dispute, development has been stagnant in these areas as either no state is keen on taking their responsibility or both states stake claim on them, leading to conflict. The people ultimately end up blaming each others across the border and even stall development projects sanctioned by ‘rival’ states. No wonder, villages on the vicinity of Guwahati in Meghalaya are very poorly connected, even though the states claim there is no dispute in these areas. Areas having border dispute suffer from poor infrastructure, lack of basic amenities, poor health.

The border people, from time to time, used to raise their grievances through the media, but to no avail. There used to be no prompt cabinet meeting on such issues. However, the hand of Assam authorities in the eviction has aggravated the matter. Had it been the same Congress government that ruled Assam for 15 long years before facing debacle in this year’s election, the reaction from Meghalaya government would not have been so strong. While politics played a key role in the incident, another probable factor can be an under construction five star hotel located in the vicinity. Reports in Assam media already highlighted the interest of hotel in the matter. There is nothing wrong in protecting genuine interest, if any, of the hotel, but same promptness is expected from the government on many much-delayed projects and probes.

(Published as editorial in The Meghalaya Guardian on July 30, 2016)

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