Shillong: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma received a letter signed by as many as 87 prominent Bengali citizens of Meghalaya, including former MP, minister and vice-chancellor requesting for a solution to the 'divide' which have been allegedly created between the local tribes and Bengalis in the state.
The signatories include Jayanta Bhushan, ex-vice chancellor of Assam University, BB Dutta, ex-Rajya sabha MP and Manas Chaudhuri, ex-minister.
IAS officer, student leaders, advocates, bankers, former professors and teachers are the other signatories.
The letter said, "In the light of the recent attempt at dubbing all Bengali-speaking residents of Meghalaya as 'Bangladeshis', we are shocked, pained and take umbrage at such an audacious statement".
It further reads as, "We, therefore, feel provoked to recall our long association with the hill people of Meghalaya even prior to the advent of the British Raj. It is sad to witness these misplaced vilification campaign despite a long history of our mutual co-existence".
The signatories expressed their anguish in the letter due to the actions of certain groups who termed all Bengalis residing in Shillong as Bangladeshi.
The Bengali citizens of the state have requested the Meghalaya government to take immediate proactive action to secure the state from future misunderstandings.
The state government has been requested to "ensure the absolute rule of law to bring about the end to the untold harassment and discrimination of the citizens".
Via the letter, the Bengali citizens are seeking CM Sangma to chart out a clear-cut policy to safeguard the Bengali community settled there in respect to the rights and privileges of all ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities residing in Meghalaya.
The disheartened community believes that CM Sangma, a 'new generation forward-looking' leader will hopefully take path-breaking steps to strengthen the relations between two estranged communities in Shillong.