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Shillong erupts in anti-uranium mining protest

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 April 2017 12:00 AM GMT

Thousands of KSU members hit city streets, clash with police


SHILLONG, April 4: The Khasi tiol Awakening Day (Sngi Kyrsiew Ri)-a day to commemorate the first Anglo-Khasi war led by Syiem (Chief) Tirot Singh between the year 1829 and 1833, organised by the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) on Tuesday witnessed patriotic slogans against the proposed uranium mining in the state.

However, the KSU march to the Atomic Minerals Department (AMD) to despise the Union government’s alleged subversive attempts to extract Uranium and the student volunteer’s subsequent retreat was marred by stone pelting on police officials guarding the main gate of the Atomic Mineral Directorate (AMD) office and a spiritual institution.

Prior to the march to the AMD office, heavy security was deployed. Most of the shops belonging to non-tribal were closed except those shops belonging to the indigenous Khasi people and meat sellers remained opened. The union burnt the effigy of Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) and Atomic Mineral Directorate at Nongmensong opposing the Uranium mining in the state.

Around one thousand odd Union members participated in the Khasi tiol Awakening Day. The members were seen holding anti-uranium placards, while on the march the Union members also shouted slogans like, ‘Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) go back’ and ‘AMD down down’.

The president of the KSU, Lambokstar Marngar in his address in front of the AMD office, alluded to the heroes of the Anglo-Khasi war and cited to the members of the Union that the fight against uranium mining in the state should be treated in the same approach.

“If UCIL or AMD continues its pursuit to mine uranium in the state or use force, we have to announce that UCIL and AMD are the worst enemies of the indigenous Khasi people and if blood flows through the streets of state then the central government, UCIL, AMD and the Meghalaya government will be fully responsible for that,” the KSU leader said.

Alleging that in the past couple of months UCIL had visited Domiasiat in West Khasi Hills a centre of the Uranium mining debate in Meghalaya, to manipulate the people of the region to allow uranium mining with an alibi of development, he said, “At the end there will be no development in the region however there will only be death and all kind of sickness which will engulf the people in that region and across the state.”

In this connection, the KSU leader threatened that if UCIL continues this tactic of manipulating the people of the region then they will have to take a decision to remove the cooperation from the State.

Stating that there are some people behind the scene who are supporting UCIL to mine uranium at Domiasiat, he said, “I want to request those people to think about the welfare of the future generation and should oppose uranium mining across the state.”

Informing that he had received a message before the start of the procession asking him why the KSU have words on some of the placards which reads as ‘Khasi by Blood and Indian by Force’, he said, “I want to clarify that we did not put up those words blindly, but we wrote those words as per the history of the indigenous khasi community.”

Earlier, former KSU leader Daniel Khyriem while stating that a clear message should be sent to the office of AMD, he sought support from the union members whether they are ready to use force and chase all the officials of AMD away from the state, in which the union members numbering in the thousands responded with a thunderous ‘Yes’.

He further said that this day is to awaken not just members of the Union but the people of state and to stand united to fight against any threat to the indigenous community.

Samuel B Jyrwa, Chairman of the North East Social Organization (NESO) in his speech said that the union will not allow the Centre to mine the uranium at any cost on the ground that it would degrade environment and precipitate health hazards in and around the mines.

“Uranium is not a blessing for the people of state however it’s a curse for those residing in areas rich in uranium,” he said.

Langrin Youth Welfare Association (LYWA) president B S Lyngdoh reiterated the association demand to do away with proposed uranium mining in the region.

The student body in the meeting has also reiterated its opposition to Railway project, until and unless there is proper mechanism to check influx.

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