Identity, Deprivation and Demand for Bifurcation of the State of Meghalaya
Published in Singh and Singh (eds.) Identity, Contestation and Development in Northeast India, Routledge, Oxon, U.K., pp. 121-129.
7 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2014 Last revised: 27 Mar 2016
Date Written: January 5, 2013
The paper seeks to examine why the youths of the state of Meghalaya are forced into militancy and violence and are raising their demand for bifurcation of the state. To fulfill this objective first a brief description has been given on the formation of the state of Meghalaya. It is mentioned that unlike many other states in India that were created on linguistic basis, Meghalaya was carved out from Assam on the basis of ethnic identity. Though the state was created it continued to witness intolerance among various ethnic groups and between tribal and non-tribal population. The present demand for division of the state by Garos is another form of intolerance among ethnic groups within the state on linguistic basis. Garos feel that they are neglected and deprived by the Khasis, the major ethnic group in the state. The fact remains that it is not deprivation which is the root cause of dissension but intolerance among themselves and the so-called struggle for their identity and language. The authors argue that the more the ethnic groups stress on their differences the sharper will be the contours for conflict. There is a need to learn to live together and to solve their problems together. Since sharing of economic opportunities is the bone of contention between the two major ethnic groups, policy makers should stress on equitable distribution of development initiatives in the State. Bifurcation of such a small state is not the panacea for the present crisis.
Keywords: Identity, deprivation, internal conflict, militancy, violence, Meghalaya, North East Region
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