News and Society

Deconstructing A News Editor’s Work In Shillong

By Mayborn Lyngdoh R

“Shillong remains a communal tinderbox, driven by tribal angst,” writes the honourable editor. In trying to deconstruct this statement, I feel, because of the accolades that this woman has been bestowed with, over the years, she feels her words are the gospel truth. She was someone worthy to be revered. She was brave for the right cause; she fought battles that were worthy of respect. She redefined the power of Media through her powerful pen.

They say, “Pride goes before destruction”, and now she’s just an uninformed, delusional and vindictive epitome of poor journalism driven by racial angst. Just because of one or two men that made your life difficult, it does not qualify you a right to tarnish and annihilate the entire tribal community (Khasi), in particular, “the men” for your own personal vendetta.

I would not say that your claims are wholesomely wrong, never-the-less, they are partially correct. Why are you giving us statistics of a single side of a coin that is, the non-tribals? Many Khasis have also died, mercilessly killed and innocent men and women were victims. You choose to victimise a section and hail the other.

Your choice of desensitising and sensitising communities in a conflict is unfair. In simple words, you are no less communal than the bigots. You have diligently researched about these conflicts with the objective of victimising a section, you, Madam, you are the epitome of a biased journalist that is harmful to the social setup called ‘Humankind’.

Your one-sided picture is everything that is wrong with this post and myriad posts of yours in the past. It is diabolical. At large, it can be termed cannibalistic. You calculatedly architect communal dissection of this beautiful city through your posts.

You have targeted the tribal men over the years, and in an attempt of an archaeological dig, it became clear as to why the Prime Meridian of Shillong is boiling with tribal animosity for decades. Your personal life is something that I sympathise with, but it is wrong to wage a war against the entire community (Khasi) to avenge the failures of the men and women in your life.

In the 1980s during one of the communal riots, “Some of my neighbours were forced to pack-up their belongings and leave in the middle of the night, and I was affected by what I saw,” recollects Prometheus Maenad. She further gives a vivid deconstructive biased documentation through the years about this tribal communal “frenzy”. Being the microphone that she is, Kong Badonburom left no stone unturned to vomit her angst.

I call it biased because though her reports are authentic, she failed to capture the story from both the non-tribals and the tribals perspective. There were many tribals who were forced to also pack up their belongings and leave in the middle of the night. Many Khasi families were also forced to leave and relocate – one of those families is that of an eight-month-old boy and his parents who escaped the snare of death on that one frightful night of 1992.

You are not “anti-tribal” nor “pro-non-tribal”. I would not even give you the title of a “Traitor”. To be a traitor, you must first belong. To me, you are just a delusional scorned woman who is motivated and inspired by poor personal short-sighted grudge aimed blankly at the Khasi Community.

Kong, with all due respect, being the editor of an elite and respected newspaper, you should have been more responsible and unbiased. Your reporting strategy is dangerous, illogical, communal, instigating and selfish at the expense of everyone. You have made a name for yourself through your grit, determination and hard work. Such a careless act by a Padma Shree recipient is shameful and disgraceful.

I fail to understand how it is okay for a mob to attack three young boys in a bus? Communal or not, repercussions were expected. Although, I would concur that what happened was wrong, but – on “both ends”.

The conflict was a result of years and years of tension. People were robbed, beaten-up, bullied for years. That was wrong but where was the Microphone, to report all that? She is nowhere to be found. She was silent!

Despite all the tensions, the city is slowly but steadily crawling towards its normal peace, and that is where the odious Prometheus emerges with her mighty pen.

Police bazaar, Shillong

Opportunistic people like you are the reason why conflicts are given a name as “communal conflicts”, and communal conflicts of the past are immortalised. You wound your web and link the past to the present. The communal shackles that we have tried to break free from, are instigated by cannibalistic people like your Excellency, down our throat. It has become very easy for you to mislead people through your fabricated and biased report. Your report on being what you termed as “communal ghetto” in the year ‘1979’, ‘1984’, ‘1987’, and ‘1992’ are filled with one-sided instigating inputs.

You beautifully pointed out how each non-tribal community was targeted – ‘The Bengalis’, ‘The Nepalese’ and now ‘The Punjabis’. In each and every conflict, every conflict started with a person’s or a group of people’s personal misunderstanding with the other, but the fire of communalism was then developed and painted by opportunistic sadists. You coloured a story, magnificently well-written, on one side of the conflict to instigate violence and headlines for your Newspaper. What do I call you?!

You, however, forgot to tell us how all of the tension started in all the above aforementioned years, how many lives were lost? How many tribal lives and how many non-tribal lives were lost? Where is the story of the many tribal youths that were arrested and lathi-charged till they were prematurely forced to embrace death?

You seemed to be obsessed with history and reliving history. Why don’t you also dwell on the fact as to what happened when David Scott brought the Rajputs and Punjabis to Meghalaya for the very first time to construct the road from Nongkhlaw to Sylhet? What did they do to our women? And what was the consequence? Whether it was justified or not? Should the crimes committed by the ancestors be made remembered and relived to be blamed?

The year 1997 is the year that you chose to omit, or maybe it was out of your radar. In 1997 a bus of believers was passing through Nongmensong when suddenly, a group of rogues decided to attack it and even then, there were tensions. Another incident is when two of my dad’s colleagues were stabbed and stoned to death while they went for an evening tea in Keating Road. A group of five youths were also beaten up and burnt alive inside a butcher’s shop.

You are not the only one with a story or stories to tell. There are thousands of stories unheard.  Unlike you, I would not want to relive the past because the past is in the past for a reason. If we are to live there, then there will never be peace.

We have lost many good men and women as a result of conflicts, irrespective of their regional and ethnic identities.

Houses were burnt, people were slain. The one most affected by all these are the common people. Common people has no race, no ethnic background, no colour, no caste, no religion and no sex.  They are being defined by a single word “HUMAN”.

And through time immemorial the Khasis were always the prime targets of the armed forces and the non-tribals were always protected despite “both” being guilty on their own grounds. The ones that are currently suffering in the hospitals as a result of the conflict are Khasis. Don’t tell me the other party was innocent. Several local newspapers photographed them with knives and swords, and the armed soldiers were right there. Not a single one of them was fired with rubber-bullets or tear-gased or lathi-charged for that. One can conclude, “They were only protecting themselves” and trust me when I saw this, I believe you. They felt threatened. The animal instinct kicked in.

The Khasis never complained about that because we are reasonable enough to understand that in the heat of the moment when we were out of our wits, we could’ve done things which we could’ve regret. In a war, there is no victor. Irrespective of the number, someone will always end up losing someone they treasure the most. But it is so obvious; everyone is blind to that.

Madam, you have given your whole life to journalism, leave your personal psychological angst behind. You’re threatening the lives of a sea of human beings here in Shillong with your instigating deformed post not to mention, Northeast students and employees that are either studying or working outside of Shillong. You are sowing the seeds of hatred among brethren. Just because you are a Khasi, doesn’t mean you have a right to represent us and speak for us. You have been doing that for years. Your birth-right is not your political and social apprehension.

You carry a Khasi surname, do not misuse the name as a tool to create fake, biased and misleading sensational national news to lure a wider audience. To the world, you are a brave Khasi woman who dares to speak the truth (biased interpretation of events) against her own people, but in reality, you’re nothing but a scorned egoistic misleading Padma Shree journalist.

Since the last great conflict in 1992, twenty-six years, we have been living harmoniously in this peaceful and happy habitué. It is a great achievement indeed. Stop digging the grave that’s forgotten. We are moving forward, away from communal conflicts – let us live in peace and harmony. Peace comes slowly; I beg of you to not disturb it’s flow while we are recovering.

You signed off your interview in a book in which you are the protagonist with, “Every day is a new journey and every day I will try and build peace through my writing, bring a spotlight to the problems that many do not want to address and put forth my suggestions and solutions.” How intriguing?! How ironic?! How inconsiderately satiric?!

To conclude, I have struggled to understand ironies throughout my educational life, until I read “Shillong remains a communal tinderbox, driven by tribal angst”. And I wholeheartedly agree, “Silence at this juncture is self-destruction”.

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