From a Correspondent
SHILLONG, July 17: While, Tirot Sing the freedom fighter of the Khasis fought the mighty British Empire to protect his land and thus the identity of his people from being overwhelmed by a majority population, however it is paradoxical that a section of the present generation of Khasis are alienating land for their own selfish needs.
Taking part in the panel discussion organized by the Riti Academy and Friends Connection on the occasion of the 177th death anniversary of Tirot Sing the syiem (chief) of Nongkhlaw, eminent journalist of the State, Sumar Sing Sawian said that the indigenous tribes are losing land which is his identity, to big firms and multi-national companies.
“We have auctioned away our lands and lost authority over them,” Sawian said.
According to him tribal lands are being alienated for the benefit of big companies who mine the minerals that are under these lands.
“These companies mine for coal, limestone causing colossal damage to our environment,” Sawian said.
According to Sawian unscientific mining in the State have caused huge damage to the environment especially to its water bodies which have become poisonous and unfit for human consumption.
Giving a clarion call to the gathering here, Sawian said that the present generation needs to revive Tirot Sing’s spirit of patriotism.
BR Kharlukhi, former Rajya Sabha, MP said that Tirot Sing was a man of vision who preferred to be imprisoned so that his people can gain freedom.
On the occasion a session of poetry reading was also held wherein Desmond L Kharmawphlang of North Eastern Hill University and legislator Paul Lyngdoh read out their poems.
Meanwhile, Meghalaya Chief Minister, Mukul Sangma said that U Tirot Sing has fought aggressively to ensure that the people are not alienated from their land.
“The historic day will inspire the people to rededicate themselves to protect their land, culture and traditions,” Sangma said.
The Chief Minister was speaking on the occasion of the observance of the 177th death anniversary of U Tirot Sing, organized at Mairang, West Khasi Hills.
Sangma also said that though the country is free of foreign rule, there are still bondages that need to be broken, which are poverty and diseases. According to him such oppression can be overcome through joint efforts.
In the Anglo-Khasi War, of 1829, the Khasis lacked firearms and had only swords, shields, bows and arrows. They were untrained in the British type of warfare and soon found that it was impossible to engage in open battle against an enemy who could kill from a distance. Instead, they resorted to guerrilla activity, which dragged on for about four years. Tirot Sing was captured by the British and deported to Dhaka, where he died on July 17, 1835.