Death of Ex-Speaker Sangma, infighting in Cong, cabinet reshuffle hit headlines in Meghalaya

Shillong, December 29
The death of political stalwart and former Lok Sabha Speaker Purno Agitok Sangma, bid of carrying forward his legacy in the Tura Parliamentary constituency by his son Conrad and a minor reshuffle in the Mukul Sangma-led state Council of Ministers besides brunt of militancy and crimes against women and children made the headlines in the media in this North Eastern state during the soon to be phased out year 2016. The year 2016 will also be remembered for Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the 65th plenary session of North Eastern Council(NEC) held here. The infighting in the ruling Congress also abetted to some extent the landslide victory of the party’s arch rival late Sangma inspired formation in the bye-election to the Tura Lok Sabha constituency with his youngest son Conrad Kongkal Sangma defeating Chief Minister Mukul Sangma’s wife Dikkanchi D Shira by 1.92 lakhs votes.
The former Speaker, who was elected as the Lok Sabha member for nine consecutive terms from Tura parliamentary constituency and also served as Meghalaya Chief Minister for a brief period, passed away on March 4 at an age of 86. Not only in the parliamentary bye-election, the ruling Congress suffered defeats in the by-polls to seven vacant seats – 6 seats in Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council and one in Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council. The Congress managed to win only two seats in the council’s by-poll. The infighting within the ruling Congress-led Meghalaya United Alliance government to unseat Mukul Sangma as Chief Minister also witnessed a minor cabinet reshuffle in the month of August with two senior cabinet ministers ? Rowell Lyngdoh and Alexander Hek ? were sacked. The Chief Minister inducted two of the rebel Congress legislators – Martin M Danggo and Ronnie V Lyngdoh ? as cabinet ministers in his bid to contain the infighting. Veteran Congress legislator and Chief Executive Member P N Syiem, who openly revolted against Chief Minister over the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) (Amendment) Act, 2015 which bars a legislator from holding dual posts, was suspended for three years. Protesting Syiem’s suspension, five Congress members of Khasi Hill Autonomous District Council – Antonio War, Banteidor Lyngdoh, Hadrian Lyngdoh, Albinus Lyngdoh and Victor Ranee – also quit their primary membership of a Congress party.
Meghalaya became the 21st State in the country to ratify the Constitution Amendment Bill for the Goods and Service Tax (GST) which was unanimously passed by the Assembly.
The five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in western part of Meghalaya which was affected by militancy problem showed some respite with more than fifty militants of the outlawed Garo National Liberation Army gave up themselves to the state after police intensified counter-insurgency operations.
At least 50 GNLA militants had surrendered along with arms and ammunition to the government authorities in the past 11 months.
As for crime against women and children, a total of 429 cases were registered under various sections of the IPC and CrPC. Of the 429 cases, 74 rape cases were against the fairer sex and 19 against children during the past 11 months.
With the year 2016 is about to come an end, there is also a demand for the sacking of Home Minister H D R Lyngdoh after his family-run guest house was raided to trafficking of a minor girl aged 14 allegedly for prostitution.
This month, a minor managed to flee from a guest house, Marvelene’s Inn in Rilbong that is run by Lyngdoh’s wife, and turn up at a police station where she narrated harrowing details on how she was exploited over a long period of time in different guest houses and hotels.
Based on her report, the police managed to arrest one Mamuni Parveen, who had allegedly forced her into prostitution to high-end clients around the State Capital, which included politicians. A few others, including the staffs of Marvelene’s Inn, were also arrested.
The State Commission for Protection of Child Rights(SCPCR) has filed four FIRs against several persons, including former militant leader-turned Independent legislator Julius Dorphang for allegedly sexually exploiting the minor.
The demonetisation of Rs 1000 and Rs 500 currency notes have also hit the militants forcing some of them to come over ground. At least four persons were arrested in Western Meghalaya for depositing demonetised Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes allegedly belonging to militant leaders in their bank accounts.
Meghalaya co-hosted with Assam the 12th edition of South Asian Games in February. Eight sports disciplines including women’s football, badminton and boxing were held in the State.
With the successful of co-hosting, the Indian Olympic Association has accepted Meghalaya bid to host the National Games 2022.

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