The Assembly met at 10. A.M on Tuesday, the 22nd June, 1971 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with the Speaker in the Chair.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
(To which oral replied were given)
Mr. Speaker :- Let us start with starred question No. 4
Total acreage of Rongram Agriculture Farm.
Shri Choronsing Sangma asked :
Will the Minister, Agriculture, be pleased to State -
(a) What is the total acreage of land at Rongram Agriculture Seed Farm, Garo Hills ?
(b) What crops are usually grown in this farm
(c) The total amount spent for 1970-71 for the said farm
(d) What is the total annual income out of this farm for the year 1970-71 ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister- in-charge of Agriculture, etc.) replied :
(a) - Thirty acres
(b) - Paddy, Maize, Mustard, improved Ginger, Turmeric, Arhar and Sugarcane
(c) - Rupees 21,260.94 P. Only
(d) - Rupees 24,032.90 P. only.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us come to starred question No. 5
Appointment of Executive Engineer in Community Development Department.
Shri M.N. Swer asked :
Will the Minister in charge of Community Development be pleased to state -
(a) Whether it is a fact that the Community Development Department has appointed one Executive Engineer ?
(b) If so, who is the controlling authority over that Executive Engineer
(c) Whether the said Executive Engineer will have the Prospect of higher promotion in the Community Development Department.
Shri Stanley D.D Nichols Roy (Minister, Community Development) replied :
(a) - Yes
(b) - Director of Community Development
(c) - No.
Mr. Speaker :- Is there any supplementary question ?
Shri A.B Diengdoh :- Sir, may I know the name of the said officer.
Shri Stranley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- Shri H.K. Khera.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- Sir, what procedure is adopted for selection of the incumbent ?
Shri Stranley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- The same procedure which is adopted in selection of other staff required from the Government of Assam for the personnel required in our Government Departments,
Shri A.B Diengdoh :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, whether it is a fact that the said officer was refused and rejected appointment in the P.W.D ?
Mr. Speaker :- That is a new question and the Minister concerned cannot reply.
Shri M.N. Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the replies of the Minister concerned are not satisfactory.
Mr. Speaker :- Then you put supplementary questions.
Shri M.N. Swer :- Sir, may I know from the Minister in charge whether the Director of Community Development is a technical man ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- No.
Shri M.N. Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, how will it be effective for a non - technical man to control over a technical man ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the head of every Directorate there are occasionally non - technical people advised by the technical people. It is not necessary that a Director of a Department need be a technical man. In this particular case, the Executive Engineer is controlling the Overseers under him and for administrative and other purposes he is being controlled by the Director of Community Development.
Shri M.N. Swer :- Sir, may I know from the Minister in charge whether it is not a fact that all the other technical personnel in the Community Development Department are controlled by the various other technical Departments.
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- There are a number of Departments, viz., technically controlled by the Agriculture Department in case of agriculture and by the Veterinary Department in case of veterinary and so on.
Shri M.N. Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I know from the Minister concerned whether it is a fact that the said officer will remain in the same post till his retirement ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- No, it is not a fact. This appointment is made temporarily and the incumbent can revert to his parent Department after suitable arrangement are made to replace him.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- Is there any promotion prospect in this Department ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- No. But when the incumbent is due for promotion he can go back to his parent Department or to some other Department.
Shri E.B. Lyngdoh :- What are the functions 0f the Executives engineer ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- The functions are as follows;
(1) He will inspect all construction of buildings, irrigation and reclamation projects, roads, bridges, water supply projects, etc.
(2) He will inspect the existing buildings and other works constructed out of the community Development funds so that timely steps may be taken for their maintenance.
(3) He will inspect the machinery, vehicles, and equipments with the Blocks. He will formulate schemes for the training of mechanics wherever required.
(4) He will technically scrutinise all schemes before approval is given by the Director of Community Development Meghalaya.
(5) He will assist the Blocks in the preparation of schemes involving high technical skill.
(6) He will formulate and prepare schemes of irrigation reclamation, etc, for the compact areas on request from the Block or on direction from the Directorate.
(7) All Overseers in the Blocks will be under the technical supervision and guidance of the Executive Engineer. He will check at random at least 5 per cent of the works (each work not exceeding Rs. 5,000), the estimates of which were made by the Overseers, to ensure quality and economy of works done.
The Executive Engineer will send copies of his inspection reports to the Block Development Officers and the Deputy Commissioner/Sub divisional Officer concerned, with the a copy to the Director of Community Development, Meghalaya. He will submit to the Director of Community Development, Meghalaya, in the first week of the following month detailed tour dairy indicating the works done by him during the month.
Shri S.P Swer :- May I know from the Minister in charge whether the jurisdiction of this Executive Engineer is for the entire State of Meghalaya ?
Shri Stranley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- Yes, Sir, for the entire State.
Shri E.B. Lyngdoh :- Whether the Minister, Community Development, is aware that this officer has been rejected by the P.W.D ?
Mr. Speaker :- That is a new question.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- Whether the Minister concerned is aware of the fact or not ?
Mr. Speaker :- You want to know whether the Minister Community Development is aware of the fact that the said officer was rejected by the P.W.D of Meghalaya ?
Shri Stranley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- The Secretary P.W.D did not inform the me Sir,.
Shri M.N. Speaker :- Sir, the replies of the Minister concerned are not satisfactory. There are so many complications involved, May I be permitted, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to raise a half an hour discussion on this matter under Rule 49 (1) of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the House.?
Mr. Speaker :- Under Rule 49 (1) you can raise, a half an hour discussion but Rule 49 (2), clearly says that, if you want to raise a half an hour discussion, you can give notice in writing. Then of course, I will consider and study the Rules and the points submitted to me, so that I can fix a date in consultation with the Minister concerned. It cannot be discussed now.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Is the Government aware that there is an enquiry against this officer in the Community Development Department in the Government of Assam ?
Shri Stranley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister Community Development) :- No, we are not aware of it.
(To which replies were laid on the Table)
Shifting of All India Radio.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh asked :
Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state ?
(a) Whether the Government have taken up the matter relating to the shifting of All Indian Radio, Shillong from the present place in order to give room for the Legislative Assembly ?
(b) Of, so, when the All India Radio is going to shift ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- replied :
(a) - Yes
(b) - When their new Studio building is ready.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- Now, the answer to question No. (b), is "When their new a Studio building is ready ? "May I know from the Government when their new Studio building will be ready ?"
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- The matter is being taken up by the central Government.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- May I know whether the All India Radio has any land for the studio ?
Mr. Speaker :- The question cannot be replied.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Is the Chief Minister aware of the inconvenience caused to the Members of this House, as they do not have a room for lounge ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Yes, Sir, I am aware and everybody is aware of the difficulties we are facing. Unless and until All India Radio is shifted to their new building, we shall we have to bear some inconveniences.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- Will the chief Minister pursue the matter and fix a time limit ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I may inform the House that the Government of Meghalaya is not happy about this problem and the difficulties. We had occasions to discuss this matter with the Government of India and place before them the various difficulties faced by the Members. When Shri Gujral., Union Minister for information and Broadcasting came to Shillong, my colleague, Shri Nichols Roy, had a discussion on the matter with him. While in New Delhi also, I took up this with him. he said he would make a visit here and bring his officials to see to what extent the difficulties, faced by the Government of Meghalaya could be solved. But unfortunately, in the beginning the question of land came. But even after the problem of land is solved the construction of building will take quite a number of months. Under the circumstances, we are now helpless, and until and unless, the All India Radio is shift to the new building and the installations are removed, I think this problem cannot be resolved by the Government of Meghalaya.
Introduction of Sport Coachers.
Shri Grohonsing A Marak asked :
Will the Minister of education be pleased to state :-
(a) Whether the Government has introduced Sport coaching in the State ?
(b) If, so, how many Sports coachers are there in the State ?
(c) Their names and their subjects of coaching game - wise ?
(d) Who is the appointing authority of Sport coachers ?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister Social Services (Education) replied :
(a) - No
(b) to (d) - Do not arise.
Shri E.B. Lyngdoh :- Sir, what are the difficulties in introducing Sports coaching in the State ?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) :- Sir, the Department has not found not the difficulties at the moment, as it has not been considered.
Shri Grohonsing A. Marak :- Sir, may I know whether the Government consider that Sports coaching is necessary like other States ?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) :- Yes Sir, it is essentially necessary.
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah :- Sir, when the Government feel it necessary, do they propose to take any step for the formulation of any scheme for Sports coaching ?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) :- That matter is under consideration.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Is the Government aware that a huge amount of money allotted by the Central Government in being wasted for not introducing any such schemes ?
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) :- Sir, it has not been allotted to the Government of Meghalaya.
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Sir, May I take it that Government is no aware of the sanction of the about Rs. 10 lakhs for this purpose and for not taking up any scheme, the money has been wasted ?
Mr. Speaker :- Do you mean to say 'waste' or 'lapse' ?
Shri Rokendro Dkhar :- Yes, Sir, lapse.
Shri Sandford K. Marak (Minister, Education) :- We are not aware of any sanction from the Government of India.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I will ask the Department to enquire in to the matter.
Headquarter for the Mynso - Raliang Development Block.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen asked :
12. Will the Minister - in charge of Community Development be pleased to state -
(a) Whether the Government is aware that the selection of site for the headquarters of the Mynso Raliang Development Block has been pending for about five years ?
(b) If so, whether the Government has received representations from the local people of the Block concerned and also recommendation from the officers and officials connected with the Block relating to selection of the site ?
(c) Whether the Government has taken necessary steps on the basis of the views and recommendations referred to in (b) above for expediting the decision of selecting the site to this effect ?
Shri Stanley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Community Development, etc ) replied :
(a) - Yes
(b) - Yes.
(c) - Yes.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- May I know whether any survey of the site proposed for the Headquarters of the Mynso - Raliang development Block has been made ?
Shri Standley D.D. Nichols Roy (Minister, Community Development) :- Sir, the Government is taking steps to have 3 sites surveyed that were given by the Site Selection Committee. After technical survey and reference to the availability of the land necessary, the report will be submitted on 15th July, 1971 and then the Government will decide upon a site out of the three that were suggested by the Site Selection Committee.
Black - topping of Paikan - Bajengdoba - Tura Road
Shri Grohonsing A. Marak asked :
Will the Minister P.W.D (R&B) be pleased to state -
(a) Whether there was a proposal for metalling and black - topping some portions of Paikan - Bajengdoba - Tura Road ?
(b) If, So, whether this has been implemented ?
(c) If not, why not ?
Shri Edwingson Bareh [Minister, P.W.D. ( R & B ), etc] replied ;
(b) The metal collection works are in progress
(c) - Does not arise.
Shri Grohonsing Marak :- May I know whether metalling and black - topping of Paikan - Bajengdoba - Tura Road will be completed within this financial year ?
Shri Edwingson Bareh [Minister, P.W.D. ( R & B ), etc] :- Sir, we hope at least a portion of it will be completed with this financial year.
Establishment of PHE Subdivision at Baghmara
Shri Brojendra Sangma asked :
Will the the Minister in charge of Public health Engineering be pleased to State -
(a) Is there any proposal to establish Sub division Office at Baghmara of Public health Engineering department ?
(b) If so, when it will be started ?
(c) how far the works of water supply are in the progress at Baghmara and Karukol of Garo Hills ?
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, P.W.D. ( R&B ), etc replied :
(a) - Yes
(b) - The subdivision is being functioning now
(c) - The Baghmara scheme has already been taken up in the last part of 1970-71, Certain materials required for execution of the work had since been procured and tender for intake and other important items inclusive of construction of Staff Quarters, etc also invited
The Karukol water supply scheme is under investigation.
Mr. Speaker :- Unstarred Question No. 15.
Meghalaya Printing Press
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh asked :
15. Will the Chief Minister be pleased to state -
(a) What is the progress in regard to setting up a Meghalaya Printing Press ?
(b) When it is expected to function ?
Shri Willaimson A Sangma (Chief Minister) replied :
15. (a) A separate Wing in the Assam Government Press, Shillong, that will execute only the works of the Meghalaya Government has been sanctioned. One Indian Make 'Globe' brand handfed Letter Press Stop Cylinder machine and also 5 tonnes of type metals have been purchased for the Wing.
(b) - The wing is expected to function as soon as the staff are released by the Government of Assam. The type metals are being used for the Meghalaya Printing works.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- May we know from the Minister in charge whether there is a separate wing in the Assam Government Press for execution of the works of Meghalaya Government and will that wing be enough to do printing works of our Government ?
Shri Williamson A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in fact, the Government is using going to have a separate press for Meghalaya and we have already requested the Deputy Commissioner to find a suitable land where the Meghalaya Government Press could be located. Two alternative sites were selected but in the meantime the Government has, in principle decided to shift the Capital to the Valley. Therefore, the Government thought that it would not be desirable to go for a separate Press for Meghalaya and the idea of establishing a separate Press ahs been dropped for the time being because once the Statehood will come it is hoped that the Government Press, which belonged to the Government of Assam, will come to us.
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, is the Chief Minister aware that even if the Capital is shifted, it will take a considerable time for the press to come?
Shri Williamson A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this connection I would request the hon. members to look to what arrangement has been made in the reorganisation of States. Let us take Punjab Reorganisation and also Bombay. Certain institutions would be made available for both the Government till alternative arrangement can be made. We know that in spite of the decision of the Government of Assam to shift the Capital to a new site, construction of the Capital will take a number of years. Therefore, some arrangements will be made so that both the Government can utilise a particular institution.
Shri P. R. Kyndiah :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think that it is only a stop - gap arrangement. May I know whether the release of the staff requisitioned from the Government of Assam if will take time ?
Shri Williamson A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- We have requested the Government of Assam for the staff but the staff asked for have not been released. We are pursuing the matter.
Shri Alwot Berry Diengdoh :- May we know from the Minister-in-charge, while pursuing the matter for urgent and immediate release of the staff, when is the last reminder sent to the Government of Assam ?
Shri Williamson A Sangma (Chief Minister) : I cannot give the exact date. But the Government of Assam is being pressed for the release of staff so that the Wing can start functioning. I do not have the papers here with me.
Mr. Speaker : So, let us now switch over to the next item-Motion No. 2. of today's list of business. Mr. Johndeng Pohrmen.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am glad that this House will now discuss the problem connected with the influx of evacuees from East Bengal to Meghalaya. Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the outset I must thank you for allowing me to bring forward this Motion, which, according to me, is of utmost importance as the issue in hand forms one of the most crucial moments in the history of our country, India. Mr. Speaker, Sir, history has been many a time cruel to mankind. But the cruelty that has been shown in East Pakistan has very few equals in the annuals of brutality.....
Mr. Speaker : Whether the history is cruel or the history records the cruelties.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen : Well, might be both . East Pakistan which is now rechristened fondly the "Bangladesh" by the ardent followers of Mujibur Rahman, is the scene of that bloody drama, which is written with the blood of thousands of Bangladeshians. The story of Bangladesh is simple but is one of the grimmest stories. Today the civil war is 90 days old, but during the short period of three months only volumes of history could have been written. This civil war, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is a class by itself, in that the West Pakistan Military rulers have mobilised their whole military might against the very people whom they claim to be their own country men, and these people, the Bagladeshians, are unarmed. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I need not repeat the various sad stories of the savage repression as we all see in the Press and hear in the radio daily the sad stories. The tale of woe is being narrated for hours and hours in various parts of the world. No sweet voice is eloquent to describe the perfidies committed by the West Pakistan army. In short, the state of affairs pertaining to Bangladesh beggars description. Perhaps only the dead can give the most vivid descriptions of the orgies committed by the West Pakistan army on the innocent Bangladeshi. There is a belief, Mr. Speaker, Sir, among my border people that the spirits of the dead are even now dancing in an exotic manner invoking the gods to avenge cheer death. The question, Mr. Speaker, Sir, what on earth have the people of Bangladesh done that they deserved to be butchered in their hundreds and thousands ? Their only crime is only because they democratically gave expression in the last December elections that they would like to be governed by themselves.
Mr. Speaker :- May I remind the Hon. member that the Motion is to discussion the problem connected with the influx of East Pakistan evacuees and not to discuss about the problems in East Bengal. It was due to the fact that there was a political problem in East Bengal that the evacuees had crossed over to India. That by way of reference you can deal but you cannot deal at length on this point.
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I pray that the House has patience with me. It is only a prelude towards my motion. The patience of the savage domination that the Bangladeshis suffered in the hands of the West Pakistan Military Rulers had been far too long even as "the strongest rope breaks at last". Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had said that this is one of the most crucial moments in the history of our great country in that civil war has caused a big burden to India and to be precise, the border states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura bear the burnt of the problem. From the Press Reports, it appears that a number of refugees coming over to India had crossed the 6 million mark. It is apprehended that it would be soon 8 or 9 millions. Mr. Speaker, Sir, on this question, India being traditionally hospitable and as the next door neighbours of Pakistan, has to embrace these refugees. It cannot humanly turn out these refugees coming to take refugee at its doors. Whatever may be the opinion of the various sections of the people perhaps, India has not only played the part of the good Samaritan. That beautiful story of the good Samaritan which says that human being is the neighbours of mine when he is in distress, irrespective of community, language, culture, etc. The basic thing is that he is the child of God as I am. I think this is the spirit with which this great country India, has sheltered the millions of refugees coming from Bangladesh. It is a pity Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the world it appears, has not encouragingly risen to the occasions to extend its helping hand for ht care of the refugees. It is true that some countries have come forward with help both in cash in the kind but we are told that the amount so far collected and channelised through India,. has been too meager compared to the daily expenditure of about 2½ crores for the refugees.
In Meghalaya alone, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the number of refugee has been over 2 ½ lakhs and Mr. Speaker, Sir, in spite of the fact that Meghalaya is the most infant State among the most backward States economically and otherwise and with its age of one year old, it has taken the burden of sheltering about 2½ lakhs of refugees. Meghalaya I believe, Mr. Speaker, Sir, deserves the praise and administration of the whole nation, i.e in spite of its many limitations and handicaps it is ready and is trying its best to give shelter to the 2½ lakhs of refugees. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I had to occasion to tour the border areas immediately after the 31st March, when the first batch of refugees had landed in India, at Dawki and I could see that our people, the border people had really a great sense of hospitality and responsibility. Many of them have come forward to extend their helping had. In fact, some of them even tried to organise some relief committees in the border areas particularly at Dawki. It was really a very happy thing. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills alone we are told that there are 80,000 refugees. They are being accommodated in about 12 camps. Now it is about 3 months that the refugees have been here in the border States of India. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the local people, by way of giving refreshing information to the House, have had to suffer a lot because of the influx of the refugees. The local people of the border villages like Dawki, Muktapur, etc,. had not been able, for the last three months not to attend to their daily cultivations and their business for fear of theft, fire, etc., They had to sacrifice ever their health because Mr. Speaker, Sir, as you also very well know and most of the Hon'ble Ministers, that the foul smell and the stench coming out from the refugees is so unbearable that only God knows how the people have still survived. By the laws of Hygiene most of them must have been dead. Secondly, the border trade which had been declared open by the unilateral decision made by our Government has come to a standstill.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, you very well know that the most important commodities in the border areas are the cash crops. I might be wrong in the case of the Garo Hills. But in the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the people depend mostly on cash crops with the closure of the border hats trade has come to a standstill. Consequently, the border people are now facing poverty and hunger stares them in the face. They find it difficult to make both ends meet. In fact, they are stranded in their own place, and recently with the constant shelling in the border areas, those people have had to leave their hearths and homes and to run for safety to safer places. The result is that Mr. Speaker, Sir, the hardship and difficulties of the border people are multiplied hundred - fold. The border people were all know had been subjected to all kinds of vicissitudes due to partitions, and now due to the influx of refugees and shelling by the Army in the neighborhood of those border villages another crisis had befallen them. Not only that, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would through you bring to the notice of the House that only yesterday I received a report that some betel nut, orange, plantations and pineapple gardens have been destroyed.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the border areas, as the Government also appreciate the people are really in such a situation that prompt steps should be taken to rush relief to them. Before he commencement of this Session, of the P.W.D Minister himself myself and other local officers of Jowai Subdivision had made a tour in the area before we came for the Session and we had many sad tales told to us by our people, and being assured by the Government that all help would be rushed to them we have been trying to persuade the people to work out some special schemes for those people who have evacuated from the border villages to safer places. We have made detailed schemes including the question of fair price shop. We have sent the scheme to the Government and I hope Sir, Government have received them. Over and above this, we have hurriedly worked out the Test Relief schemes for all the border people because for in information of the House, Mr. Speaker, Sir, as I said, the border people had been depending for their livelihood on cash crops, and in that area pan leaf is the most important cash crop, and the most important market for this is the Sylhet market. They collect pan leaf today and sell them tomorrow and with the money they collect from the sale on the third day they buy a few Kgs. of rice, This is the life of the border man. You can very well imagine, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that trade and hats having been completely stopped, these people are now facing almost starvation. The Border areas as we all know are about 3¼ or even more of rocky stones and full of gorges and the like, not fit at all for permanent or wet cultivation. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government has assured as I said, that the problems of the border people would be sympathetically considered and I am sure they will do it. And to do it should not be delayed, if we really want that our people should survive and not to perish. That is why, Mr. Speaker, Sir, even before this trouble in Bangladesh, our people because of the unreliability of the Sylhet market for pan leaf have been trying their best to get some lands for permanent wet cultivation. They want to switch over to wet cultivation but then, land is the problem. The only little portion left for wet cultivation is the Prang area a portion of the Narpuh Reserved Forest. Mr, Speaker, Sir, this matter has been brought to the notice of the Government a number of times, not only today but some years before. Only last year, the matter had been taken up by me personally with the Government. Now, that portion of the land. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I must tell the House is completely useless for the Forest Department. Ever since the partition, the valuable timbers, sand, stones, etc are being illegally lifted by foreigners the Pakistanis, because the place is so inaccessible from our side and it is easily accessible from their side.
The trees as far as we know, the main trees that grow in that part of the Narpuh Reserved Forest are of D and E classifications and are not important commercially, and there is difficulty to extract them because of lack of communications. Therefore, we have been praying and writing to the Government from time to time in order to deforest this portion of the Narpuh Reserved Forest. But alas, to this day there has been no sympathetic response. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the question is for the House and for the Government to choose between the trees and the human beings. Whether the forest should not be deforested for the sake of forest, and therefore, allow human beings to perish for want of land to cultivate. Thus, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would fervently appeal to the House, through you, that it is high time that Government make no delay in deciding this in this order to save the situation as we have come to such a situation that the border people are now in a great plight. In fact, may I point out that they are in a more pitiable condition than the refugees, themselves ? The refugees have nothing to worry about food, shelter, etc. They get their morsel of food daily and roof over their head. They have got officers who are to them just like guardians angels. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would appeal to the House that we should not make our people think that they are being neglected. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this I say with all sense of responsibility. We have been asked to gave the best co-operation in order to implement all decisions of the Government of India. I myself had been to the border morning and night in order to provide shelter to the refugees, and therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the time has come that now we have to make a bold historic decision and it is justified that the reserved forest should be deserved and given to the District Council in exchange for an alternative land we have given in writing to the Government.
Mr. Speaker :- The whole forest or a portion of it ?
Shri Johndeng Pohrmen :- The whole forest is about 40,000 acres. We know that the forest is useless to the Government. About four to five thousand acres of land will to a great extend relieve our border people. Mr. Speaker, Sir, with regard to other schemes, special schemes, test relief schemes, I would again make a fervent appeal to the House through you, that the sanctions for these schemes should not be delayed and the formalities, procedure as far as possible be cut short so that we can really help the people otherwise the idea of giving relief's to the people is meaningless and will defeat the very purpose for which they are intended. Mr. Speaker, Sir, with regard to this question of the influx of refugees into Meghalaya another question is whether in the best interest of Meghalaya and the refugees themselves it is wise that their stay in Meghalaya should be continued ? Our Government had also pointed out to the Government of India the difficulties of terrain, water supply, road communications, the climate, etc in most of the areas where the refugees are sheltered. Of course now it is summer season, and everything seems to be quite well for the refugees, but wait a few months more. Pongtung is one of the most exposed areas of the district, it is subjected to heavy rain, strong wind and the same is with Amlarem and Amstrong. I cannot say I am an authority to speak about the conditions in Garo Hills, but as authority to speak about the conditions in Garo Hills, but as far as United Khasi and Jaintia Hills District is concerned, the areas I mentioned covering Dawki sector, I have seen some of them. The Block Development Officer in charge was asked to go and inspect the camps at night time and to see whether these refugees had enough clothes to cover themselves. The report was very discouraging because for want of blankets, they have to sleep together making blankets for one another, I wonder Mr. Speaker, Sir, how the innocent creatures will resist the cold. It will be terribly cold in Khasi and Jaintia Hills in winter. So in the best interest of the refugees, I feel that something must be done by the Government if somehow they can be taken to some warmer place. Moreover Mr, Speaker, Sir, the present instruction of the Government is that the refugees are supposed to be kept confined in camps and are not supposed to roam about in the villages of the local people. I wonder how many days in the these people will be kept confined as in concentration camps of Hitler. What will happen to their health, what will happen to their mentality, how will they tolerate the monotony of life? These practical difficulties have to be considered. Mr. Speaker, Sir, another thing is that these people have different languages different ways of life which are quite strange to the local people and perhaps with no bad motive sometimes misunderstandings disputes might break our between these people and the local people and that also has to be considered. And we cannot blame the local people because they have been born and brought up in different culture and way of life. Not can we blame the refugees for similar reasons. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, with these few observations that I can possibly make at this moment, I feel that if and when things permit, the refugees, should be taken and sheltered somewhere in the a better place for their interest and also in the interest of Meghalaya. Meghalaya, as you all know, is a small State of about 22, 000 square kilometers with a population of about one million, and if we consider the density of population it is about 50 per square kilometer, and in a hilly State like ours, it is comparatively quite thick, more so, when we know that most of the areas of the State are full of barren land not suitable for any permanent cultivation. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, with these few words, I once, again thank you and the House for giving me a patient hearing in my humble effort to project this refugees problem.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. P. Ripple Kyndiah.
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, much has been said on this problem of the evacuees rather the situation arising out of this problem which is admittedly gigantic and colossal in nature and I think there is much more to be said. I agree entirely with the hon. Member, Mr. Johndeng Pohrmen, who has said in his speech that this problem is a problem which is indeed a big one. India is passing through a serious crisis and a grave situation exists today as a result o f this un-controlled and heavy influx on a large scale and dimension which is unprecedented within such a short period of time. This problem, therefore, ceases to be a Meghalayan problem, it is a problem of the country as a whole. In fact, by now it has become an international problem. When we consider that 60 lakhs of evacuees, men, women, and children fleeing for their lives in search of security coming to India gate crushing, just to survive, then we can appreciate the problem in its true perspective. The matter has caught that attention of not only India as I sad, but the whole world, and for us especially, in this part of the country in the border State where we are directly affected, it a matter so serious concern. We know, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the reason for this influx which I do not like to repeat, but it will be well to appreciate the basic ingredients responsible for this unprecedented influx, we know of the unabashed use of the military war machine of Pakistan on the unarmed, unprepared but democratic and proud people of East Bengal. It was a war and the war is till going on between the unequal. The army, trained men, of West Pakistan, is fighting against the people convicted, in principle, in the philosophy of a democratic way of life which we belief in a and I think, which we intend to project. By now, especially after going through the report of a very famous Journalist who had visited East Bengal only recently, I refer to the name, Anthony Mascarenhas who had re-produced an account in Sunday, Times in London and from that account, we know there has been a systematic decimation of the people of East Bengal. I do not want to go into the political motives of the West Pakistan regime and I do not claim to know, but his I know that the problem of Pakistan has now been thrust on India. A Population of 60 lakhs already coming to India, I expect from the report that we hear from across, the Border that much more will be coming because of famine conditions existing there. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, the problem is now of India, the problem is of Meghalaya, the problem is now of all of us, here and of every body in India, because in the process, the socio- economic structure of India has been affected to a large extent, and as I said, the other day, that General Yahya Khan has succeeded in making India to spend 2½ crores a day in looking after the evacuees, while he is spending only one crore a day in maintaining his army in East Bengal. He has succeeded in that effort. Now the economy of India has been affected to the extent that was not conceivable has even to the Union Finance Minister, Mr. Y.B Chavan, who, in his last Budget speech and in the proposals has provided only 60 crores of rupees, and I leave to the calculation of the members to know how much and how many days this amount would be spent which, in short, means that the financial condition of the country will be not only affected adversely but will be upsetting the whole economic programmes and, if I may say so, even the development of projects which are designed to meet the needs of our poor people of India will have to abandoned. More than the financial aspects of the problem, the areas in the Border State are simply over whelmed by evacuees. In fact, if this rate goes on, we will collapse by the sheer weight of members and the Border economy will be ruined, dislocating the social and economic life of the people. I would not like to enter into the details as the hon. Member before me had already narrated various instances to show that the socio-economic life of the people has largely upset. Even the question of giving temporary shelter has also posed a big problem to us. I have been to some of the Border areas in the State of Meghalaya and I could visualize the difficulties of the Government of Meghalaya to make arrangements to provide shelter for the evacuees. Getting tarpaulins is not an easy job and even if you get them, the question of transport comes in, and getting a place to make camps is a very difficult task indeed. The question of giving food to the evacuees has strained the machinery of supply. It has strained the machinery of transport and has also affected the price level. Even in the matter if sanitation, I am not speaking only of Meghalaya but I am speaking of all the Border States affected by the influx of refugees. Even the question of sanitation and giving medical aid has been a problem quite gigantic. It has not been possible for the Government to be effective because of the difficulties of getting medical personnel, supply of medicines, etc., but there is also a problem accompanied with the influx, i.e., the problem of infiltration. This is a problem which is posing a serious threat to the security and stability in these Border Areas. Because, as you, Mr. Speaker, along with the evacuees, I have reasons to believe that a number, a large number of Pakistani agents, fifth columnist, provocateurs quite possibly Pakistani agents, are also coming to India creating a situation which is really very very dangerous.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, all these are the problem created by the influx. In fact, a sort of a war burden has been imposed on the Government of India as a result of this happening in East Bengal which is almost like an undeclared war with India. The war is not with bullets. Of course, there are stray instances of firing in the Border areas but it is not a regular warfare we have with Pakistan. Pakistan has not yet put its war machine gun against India and at least we know that they have not sent bullets but people men and women and hungry people to us to look after them. We in India, I think, have adopted a correct and responsible way of doing for deciding to look after them to the best possible from the humanitarian angle. But then the question before us is, if it is just a pure humanitarian problem the matter ends there. But it does not end there. As I have said, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are in a state of crisis, of such a dimension which I cannot express in words or what are we going to do on this question. Bu let me echo the words of the Prime Minister of India. Mrs. Indira Gandhi who said to the Economic Editors on the 17th of last month. I quote, "I am determined to send them back, i.e the evacuees. It is a matter of time. They are certainly not going to stay here permanently". This is the key answer of the policy of the Government of India with which we are in line. We are determined to send them because the people of East Bengal, much as you would help them, mush as you would give them food, much as you would give them shelter, will be certainly more at home, more congenial in their home land, and it is our duty to send them back. But it is a matter of time. Already three months elapsed. We do not know what eventually will take place or will it come to a catastrophe ! That is the question. Therefore conditions have to be created in East Bengal and for that there should be (i) return of normalcy (ii) return of Civil Rule. But how this can be achieved. There are two ways, I believe, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the first one is a direct confrontation with the problem, i.e to recognised Bangladesh followed by massive arms supply to help the liberation force. In that way it may be possible to liberate a large chunk of territory from the occupation of the West Pakistanis and the evacuees can be sent back there and we will be devoid of this big problem. But, as some hon. Members mentioned, earlier recognition requires certain basic issue and certain pre - conditions to be fulfilled before recognition can take place or be effected. Now, I am not to a lawyer but I know something of law. According to the international jurists certain conditions have to be fulfilled before recognition to a Government can be given. These are Viz, (i) possession of a territory, (ii) independent Government in full control of technical, economic and military resources and also exercising control over the people living in that territory, (iii) definite control of the territory and population, (iv) stability of the Government having power to come to an agreement with a foreign power. These are to be considered the necessary ingredients of the recognition. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, in point of facts, most of the cases of recognition of nations had taken place not on the legality of the situation but on the politically of the situation. It happened in the case of Israel when the nation proclaimed independence, the United States of America recognised it without the former having a territory. It happened also in the case of Congo. The big Western Powers safeguarded the economic interest and recognised the Government of Kasabura. I had mentioned it earlier on the floor of the House advocating the case of recognition of East Bengal during the initial period of disturbance. While at the same time of proclamation of independence by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, I think it was the correct time to recognise Bangladesh. Because at that time, at least 3 conditions were there, e.g possession of territory, independent Government and effective control over the population. Any way, we have missed that chance. I may be right or wrong, but I think, for that mistake we are facing the problem in a different context now. There is the other course, the other course is to bring pressure by the international community on Pakistan to come to a political settlement. As I have said that the Government of India could not take the opportunity at the initial stage, now it is trying to enlighten the world opiniion, through, diplomatic offensive, about the truth of the situation in East Bengal and how India is facing socio - economic problem by the massive influx of refugee from across the border. We are happy to note that some countries like the U.S.S.R have been very much clear in their stand in favour of India and they reacted immediately after India pleaded the case. We also know about the relentless efforts made by Senator Edward Kennedy who had been trying to impress upon the Government of United States of America to take positive steps ; to take cognizance of this massive suffering of the people and the problems faced by the Indian sub - continent. I do not know how far we will succeed in our efforts. But already there are some changes. I have also noted with encouragement that even the British Foreign Minister, Mr. Alec Douglas Home, had made a statement in the House of Commons and called for a political solution in Pakistan. Therefore, these are the trends that are there today throughout the world. Only the other day there had been a discussion about the refugee problem at Geneva and I think some Relief Organisations are trying to read between the lines of the thinking of the United Nation's High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, when he came to this sub - continent. Lately, he has given certain significant remarks in which he has mentioned that for early return of refuges to East Bengal, atrocities should be stopped and conditions created irrespective of caste or creed. There is another indication which came only the other day but which, I think, will have a tremendous impact on the political thinking of the Military Junta of Pakistan. As you know, now the West Pakistan rupee has slumped down and has lost mush of its value and its economy is in a very precarious state. Only the other day the Chairman of the World Bank had mentioned about postponing the aid to Pakistan and we know that without the aid from foreign countries, the economy of West Pakistan is bound to collapse. The meeting scheduled to be held could not be held because they felt that peace and normalcy have to be restored first in East Bengal. Now, these are the various indications. I have dwelt at length on this because I feel that the problem that we face today as a result of the influx of the evacuees can only be assuaged by return of normalcy and civil rule in East Bengal. This is what I feel about the present trend. I am not optimistic; I am neither pessimistic. But I feel that the next few days or the next few weeks will be crucial in the history of India. The Government of India is bound to face this problem in a concrete manner. They cannot just while away the time. Otherwise, I am afraid that the situation may overwhelm us, this situation will inundate us. Therefore, the Government of India has to come to a positive decision. Now, whatever it is, in so far as we are concerned in Meghalaya. I feel very strongly that the Government of India has done the only natural thing to do, that is to allow the evacuees to come to the eastern States including Meghalaya. Resorting to sealing of the borders will, in fact, mean that the Pakistan army will get an opportunity to shoot them all. This is not only a good piece of Samaritan work out but it is more than that. Now, this problem is coming to us and I would like to clear certain thoughts and certain whispers even in this town of Shillong as if Meghalaya Government is inviting the refugees. Let us be clear that this is not so. It is question of a calamity, a question of storm coming in, a question of cyclone and an earthquake. We are to face it. It has come to us and we are to face it. This is my feeling and I congratulate the Government of Meghalaya for having responded to the call of humanitarian duty and the duties of the State and for hiving tried its level best to give shelter, food and medical aid to the evacuees. In this enormous problem we cannot be perfect, no machinery can be perfect, even a full - grown State like West Bengal is handicapped and ever the Chief Minister Mr. Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee expressed that he was going to resign unless the evacuees are removed from his State, in spite of Meghalaya having a population of 10 lakhs in which 2½ lakhs are refugees, that is, one fourth of the population is indeed a heavy task, I think, the Government of Meghalaya had done very well. I have had occasions to meet a number of refugees and officers working in the camps. They are working round the clock even without sleep trying to meet the situation. Therefore, if there is any inference that the Government of Meghalaya has not done its duties, I beg to differ with that. I can only say that the Government of Meghalaya is trying its best, though it has not been very successful. But it has not failed. So this is the position we are facing here today.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, coming closer to what is happening in Meghalaya, I can only tell this House, through you, that on the 2nd of April, when I went to Dawki I had not the slightest idea that a trickle of about 50/60 people could be transformed into an avalanche of a mass of human beings and therefore, I even suggested then that to meet the situation let us bring the evacuees to some school buildings in Meghalaya and accommodate them, and no one could foresee that it will be of such a scale as we see today. To think of Baghmara, which is small village, with a population of 3 thousand to be overwhelmed by 40 thousand and to think of Dalu having a population of 3 thousand having refugees of about 70 thousand and to think of the border areas having a population of 1 lakhs 75 thousand and having the refugees more than double the population, is something which is bound to disrupt the socio - economic life of the people and it is also bound create apprehensions. Therefore, when there is apprehension and a certain sense of anti - evacuee feeling, I am not surprised. Imagine Mr. Speaker, Sir, that in places like Baghmara the village people who for two or three months could not get even two square meals a day - they live on wild roots - when today they see that the refugees in the camps get rice twice a day and they have camps to take shelter, naturally there is bound to have some reaction. What I am feeling in this context is that, since I am connected with the people and problem of Shillong, I can say that of late there has been a strong feeling in the minds of the people not against any section of community but against the uncontrolled, I am emphasising the word uncontrolled influx of refugees, into the towns and there is sense in it, because I know that immediately after the outbreak of violence, after about 2-3 weeks when the evacuees started coming more or less in uncontrolled manner, we see in Shillong much of campaigning, posters campaigning whisper campaigning with a view to bring about clash between one community and another, with a view to bring misunderstanding between one leader and the other. All these things were there, I can only say Mr. Speaker, Sir, they are the works of certain agents. I can tell you Mr. Speaker, Sir, that already the Pakistani agents are working in full swing. Therefore, when there was exploitation of feelings against the evacuees, I was not surprised of course to see the anti - Social elements are there taking advantage of the situation. But the thing is that, a reaction against uncontrolled influx, it is the reaction which is right. The only thing which I am concerned is that this feeling has to be channelised it and it is in that context I was feeling very much unhappy about the work and functions of the Publicity Department in not being able to project the views of the Government to the people.
Now, the other day I happened to be a member in the delegation to the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya, Shri Williamson Sangma. The delegation is of the Synjuk Lang Ki Rangbah Shnong, as association of headmen and local leaders of Shillong, Nongthymmai, Mawlai and the suburbs, the responsible people to look after the various localities and I would like to share with this House that this Synjuk Lang ki Rangbah Shnong presented a resolution to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya. I must say that generally the feeling was the the Chief Minister had been very responsive, had been sympathetic and in fact is in line with the thinking of this association. Now that association's resolution was the result of the Durbar of the representative of Shillong in which they have put forward the case in a very responsible manner that it would be in the interest of the evacuees themselves, it is in the interest o f the people of Meghalaya themselves that they should be sifted to some other camps in the plain areas. Now just a plain statement like that may tantamount to a misunderstanding being misconstrued as anti - evacuees feeling. We have to understand the issues.
My friend, Mr. Johndeng Pohrmen, had mentioned about certain factors, certain difficulties and you know, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that I know of certain camps not being able to get drinking water. Drinking water in the hills is a problem and for Shillong we all know it is always a problem. Even to sink tube -well is not practicable because as soon as we go a little deeper we will find rocks. You cannot have ring wells in the hills because of the terrains. We know the difficulties of getting flat land for construction of camps which is very very difficult indeed in Meghalaya because of the terrain and geographical position. So by and large the issues placed by this association have been very very responsible and I feel that much as I would like to say that Meghalaya Government should discharge its duties and as one of the youngest States , to do our duties, looking after the evacuees, but at the same time there is force in the argument of this memorandum. May I just read the issues Mr. Speaker, Sir? Now this is - "While appreciating the problem of evacuees as being a humanitarian one, and having the sympathy for the evacuees, the meeting is convinced that it is not in the interest of the hill people and even for the evacuees themselves to allow them to stay in the camps in Meghalaya even for a temporary period in view of the following facts :-
(1) The Present number of evacuees in Meghalaya is more than 2½ lakhs as against the population of Meghalaya which is about 10 lakhs. This poses a serious political problem of far - reaching consequences which will adversely affect the future of the hill people ;
(2) Meghalaya is a border State and is admittedly a sensitive area. The presence of lakhs of aliens poses a threat to the security, peace, and stability of the State.
(3) The economy of this border State of Meghalaya which has already been strained by the partition of India, is now further aggravated by this influx.
(4) The terrain is hilly and there is dearth of flat lands. Even construction of temporary camps presents a major problem. Climatic condition prevailing in Meghalaya is not congenial for camp- life especially during the monsoon.
(5) Roads in Meghalaya are mostly fair weather and therefore not dependable and other communications are very poor.
(6) The Water supply in Meghalaya is a constant problem on account of the terrains and deforestation. The main source of supply comes from springs which is seasonal and uncertain. Sinking of tube - wells and other means of bringing water are not feasible as in the plain areas.
Now, therefore, this meeting urges upon the Government of India and the State Government to take appropriate steps for the immediate shifting of the evacuees from Meghalaya to other parts of the country.
Now this is what they said and the reasons have been placed by the people in a very responsible manner. But as I had already stated that Meghalaya, although an infant State and although the Government machinery have yet to be geared up and the administrative apparatus is still in a very young stage, it is the primary duty of the Government to do the best that it can. I am sure that the Government of India and the people of India will appreciate the problems that we are facing because of the geographical position that we are situated. I will say that the people will not misunderstand if we present our case in a correct perspective. Now I do not have much to say but let me put a word about the role played by the various voluntary welfare organisations in the relief programmes. I know that in the initial stage when the Government machinery was not able to go into the field of various welfare organisations like the Indian Red Cross, Ramkrishna Mission, the Nazareth Hospital and others have been vigorously working in the Khasi Hills ... ... .... .... ..
Mr. Speaker :- Will you take more time ? There are so many members to speak.
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah :- I am sorry, Sir, I have taken a long time, I would just like to mention about the youths of the Garo Hills who have done splendid work in the camps at Dalu and Baghmara who were serving the evacuees there and also rendered services in the line of the tradition of the hospitality of the hills peoples. So I would like to emphasised that the people in the border areas, whether they are from the youths from the Garo Hills or whether from voluntary organisation who were working in the camps had demonstrated this element of hospitality which I think we have to take note. Now, all in all , I believe that the problems of Meghalaya are the result of this influx which are linked up very closely with what is happening throughout the country. I know that this State of ours has come amidst a large measure of good will and that because the nation appreciates certain basic quality of the hill men and let me appeal, through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that in this crucial hour that the nation is passing through, let us also again appeal to our brothers to work together and face the situation in the manner which is right and expected of us. If we do so I think no problems can be unsolved. With these few words I resume my seat.
Shri Singjan Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, in participating in the discussion on the problem in connection with the influx of refugees from East Bengal to our Meghalaya State, I would like to speak something. Before I speak about the problem which is being faced by our Meghalaya State, I would like to speak something about the situation that was going on the East Bengal. It is know to all that the inhuman atrocities committed by the military rulers of Pakistan against the sons and daughters of Bangladesh have caused influx of refugees to the different border States of our country and these unhappy happening in East Bengal and mass exodus of refuges to India have actually cast an unwarranted burden on every part of India's body politics. We have seen from the papers and I believe that everybody has gone through the different articles written by the renown journalists of the world and published in different papers about the situation which was taking place in East Bengal and we are also hearing from the radio news everyday from which we can understand how inhuman atrocities are being committed by the Pakistani Army on the innocent and unarmed population in the Bangladesh. Men, Women and children have been brutally butchered in a mass scale and the mass massacre is accompanied by the rape, arson, looting and other heinous crimes. Most of the intellectual sections of the people, such as professors, doctors, lawyers have also been killed. Not only that, but also university students and girls have been tortured and many of them have been taken away by Pakistani Army to their camps and raped and tour turned them, and the screaming of those innocent and helpless girls has become the sweet songs in Bangladesh and the beautiful streets where hundreds and thousand of people from different walks for life can be seen coming and going became streams of human blood. This is really a tragedy in the human life. This is, the reason why the people of East Bengal had to flee to their neighbouring country in India. and it has caused a mass influx of refugees to the different border areas of our Meghalaya State. This mass influx of evacuees has created a stupendous problem to our State had has adversely affected our limited economic resources and how we shall deal with this problem is a matter of serious consideration. Not only that but also the influx of so many evacuees into the border areas has brought about a great dislocation in the lives of the people living in the border areas. One of the hon. Members in his speech mentioned about the people of Khasi & Jaintia Hills as to how the mass influx of the refugees to the border areas of Khasi & Jaintia Hills and the people living in the border, are being hard hit economically and socially in their lives. The same thing is happening in the bordering people in the Garo Hills also. Now, the number of refugees so far as I understand is about 2 lakhs in Garo Hill which is 50 % of the population of our district. Now the problem arises to find the places for the construction of camps for giving them shelters and food and other things is really a gigantic problem. It is a really a grim situation and a great challenge not only to the leaders of our State buy to the country as a whole I feel in this critical moment when the country is passing through most difficult days and grim situation, it inevitably demand our united stand and co - operation to face this challenge with great courage and determination to overcome this challenge. The border people who have been badly affected due to refugees influx and also due to the repeated aggression by the Pak army into our territory are forcing our border villagers of Garo Hills to flee abandoning their agricultural activities, and other means of livelihood which serious problem particularly in their economic life, I creates believe that the Government of Meghalaya might have apprised the Government of India for giving necessary financial help to these unfortunate border people for improving their economic conditions because until and unless certain financial assistance is given to them for their relief and also for the improvement of their economic conditions they shall have to suffer for some years more. I believe that due consideration will be given by the Government to this most important matter, and necessary financial assistance will be given to them to improve their economic condition. Another thing, along with the influx of refugees there may be, as another Speaker had said, spies, agents of West Pakistan who will be giving informations to the Pakistan Government. So it is the duty of the Government to have a constant watch over such undesirable activities so that the programmes of the Government can be successful. Now in this problem it cab be seen that the Government of India under the leadership of our Prime Minister Shrimati Indira Gandhi is trying to persuade the world powers and to enlighten their minds about the situation in East Pakistan and also of the grave problem which is being faced in by India and to solve the problem in a very tactful way. Both on the floor of the House and in public platforms our Prime Minister expressed her opinion that these evacuees shall have to go back when former conditions return to East Bengal. We do not know to what extent the situation will develop and where it will end. But in the meanwhile, I feel it is the duty of the people of Meghalaya and the people of our country as a whole to give or render our services in a humanitarian way and maintain the situation in peaceful way so that nothing undesirable happens either in our State or in our country. I believe that the messages and appeals made by the Government of India through our Prime Minister to the world powers will be responded and this problem will be solved so that our brothers and sisters who came from East Pakistan can return to their homeland with dignity and prestige. In this critical moment, when our country, is passing through these most difficult days and grim situation, it is my full conviction that it is only through our united stand and co-operation with firm determination and courage that we can over come this challenge. With these few words I resume my seat.
Shri Witherson Momin :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also rise as a co-mover to support the motion moved by the Hon. Member, Mr. J. D Pohrmen as in respect of the evacuees now under accommodated in the thirty or more relief camps in our under the juristic of Meghalaya. The situation created in our home land by the huge and sudden influx of the East Bengal people as refugees seems to have shattered out going from bad to worse day in day out. It is not know how long this state of things will continue. Although there is a necessity to accommodate them inside out Meghalaya territory on humanitarian ground, it also becomes imperative for us to consider our own ways of life from different angles.
We know that the area of Meghalaya is only 22,500 Kms inhabited by a population of 9,83,336 i.e 43.61 heads per sq K.m . As against it the number of refugees is around 2,50,000 in the three different camps along the 264 mile long of southern and western border of our poor and congested Meghalaya territory. An unfathomable magnitude of the problem that cropped up in Meghalaya today as a sequel to this heavy and surprising influx may well be spot - lighted by the following facts :-
(1) That the sensitiveness of any area on all sides is beyond dispute. This fact is logical in its character. Force around it during times normal or other side keep posing a threat it during times normal or otherwise keep posing a threat to our security , peace and stability in addition to the suspected entries of the undesirable elements in the garb of genuine refugees, like saboteurs, spice and the like.
(2) The uncalled - for strains and overstrains on our economy are unprecedented and likely to cause country wide famine, and starvation to our own local people sooner or later if not timely checked by any manner of measures by authorities either at the Centre or in the state.
(3) That the local people of our Meghalaya State who by fate, are destined to live in villages on the long stretched border have just become another group of evacuees for various reasons. It needs serious attention of the Government of the State and of India. These poor and unfortunate Meghalayans have become indirect victims of the Pakistan Civil strife unleashed against East Bengal by the Military Regime of President of Pakistan for his own reasons unwarranted or otherwise. Now, the question came up whether now the world powers will simply keep looking on their untold sorrows and suffering s and miseries beyond description, torrents of tears in their eyes and agonies of mental and physical pain, terrible pinches of hungers of their stomachs, anguishes of their broken hearts and their pitiful shrieks of voices or promptly take steps for the immediate ransom and necessary amelioration of their shattered conditions seemingly beyond solution or not.
(4) That random and indiscriminate pollution of the sparkling pure, cool , refreshing and life giving fountains, sprngs, streams, rivulets and rivers of our dear home land suckling our next door neighbourly friends is another source of menace to our own flesh and blood. It is as if we are simply waiting for and looking forward to the day when Jama, the god of life and death will come to take tool of our lives unaware through our unsuspected drinks from those sources of drinking water. They are surreptitiously beings poisoned by the filthy habits of our poor friends, the refugees. There is indeed an apprehended danger of large - scale or total decimation of our local people themselves by the single source of human life insecurity. The Public Health is at stake.
(5) That last but not the least is the problem of most probably a sizable bulk of refugees taking shelter in the houses of our local people on the simple and unwarrantable plea of kith and kinship. We, as their fellow human beings and as their comrades in their desperate life and death struggle have to stretch out our helping hands out of sympathy of course. But then, while doing so, we should also bear in mind this one glaring and conspicuously projected fact of vital importance that these people, our covertly straying evacuees, are those who just hail from their home land where various fell diseases both contagious and infections obstinately exists. This is therefore, one and the surest ways of spreading diseases amongst the local people to the inevitable disgust and utter surprise of our own. As many as there are already households, therefore having accommodated them in our Meghalaya State must be immediately subjected to the proper and exhaustive enquiries by police authorities and the stray evacuees be put under medical check - up and sent back to their respective camps in the interest of public health and unsophisticated way of life of the simple - nature Meghalayan. If the Government fail to take measures in this direction, Meghalaya itself may one day become another East Bengal when we shall rule the day without an alternative choice left.
Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, based on all the above considerations, therefore, I would like to suggest to the Government of India on the one hand and the international community on the other to take serious view of these happenings here in Meghalaya and elsewhere rampantly going on as a result of the heavy historic influx from the foreign country. This is quite a sort of calamity thrust of India. The United Nations will do very well therefore to create a pressure without loss of time on Pakistan Government to create in her own turn suitable conditions for the safe and unhampered return a complete repatriation on the evacuees, India needs to be relieved of the economic, social and political tensions by the World Powers which along can wield a weapon of peace, progress, and prosperity of the entire globe and solve the deadlock whatsoever.
In the conclusion, with a sense of feelings of indebtedness on my part to you, the Hon'ble Ministers and my other hon. friends who under necessity pose now and will pose in future as public leaders and representative for your combined patience and peaceful hearing of my talks on this evacuees world affecting issue. And with these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. A. B. Diengdoh.
Shri Alwot B. Diengdoh :- I join hands with the previous Speakers to express my concern and at the same time, to support the motion moved by the hons. Members with regard to the influx of refugees from East Bengal to Meghalaya. This influx Sir, has posed a great problem to our State as well as to the Mother India, Day by day, influx is increasing and how it has exceeded two lakhs. It is a pity indeed for the Government of Meghalaya, a State which is very very young which was born just a year ago to have to shoulder; this great responsibility in sheltering, accommodating and feeding them. This I feel that unless the Government of India leans its full support and considers with sympathy the burden already shouldered by our State it will be difficult for our State along to bear this great responsibility. While expressing my grave concern, I cannot but point out what was happening to our own people in the border area of the State. This problem which was created by the sad happenings in East Bengal, has greatly affected and disrupted the people living in the border area. Mr. Speaker, Sir, as the House is aware our people in the border area hard working people and their main occupation is cultivation. Due to the mass influx and free movement of the evacuees in the respective areas there has been a tendency to use and destroy the growing fruits, vegetables and the forest wealth which has caused a lot of annoyance to our people. This is has resulted in the disruption of daily occupation due to non-availability of the regular income for their livelihood, the small saving they have had in the past also have been drained out due to the abnormal rise in prices of essential commodities. Well, Sir, these ill effects for our people could not be blamed or attributed to the evacuees, who by themselves have nothing whatsoever, as it is but natural for people who have to run for their lives, to swallow whatever they could gather and lay their hand on.
Sir, perhaps we are all aware that many people living in villages which comprise of a few house holds have left their permanent residence for temporary shelter somewhere else due to the fears of epidemic and thus they themselves become refugees, out right. As a matter of fact, we are fortunate that an early monsoon this year has prevented, to a great extent, the spreading of epidemic. While congratulating the various organisations from India and abroad for their unlimited voluntary help. I could not but be proud of the best efforts put by our Government to render every possible help in providing shelter, medical care, food supply, etc for the evacuees. But it is humanly impossible for the Government of Meghalaya to shoulder alone this responsibility by itself. Although our officers who have been allotted with the duties of looking after the evacuees in their respective camps and areas, have tried their utmost to perform their duties for the best interest of the evacuees, yet the task is so gigantic and very delicate that a climax of human patience is easily reached resulting in the dissatisfaction in many quarters. In this respect, through you, Sir, I solicit the co - operation of the press, and I would like to request them not to judge our officers who are handling this great task for their inability to please each and everyone.
As I have already mentioned earlier about the hardships faced by our people in the Border area, I would therefore, suggest to the Government to make special scheme of relief for our own people as well by opening more test relief schemes and programmes. Besides a thorough checking by the Government is to be ensured to see that the prices of assertion commodities are not increased and also to see that the health of the people is not affected. The Government should also take serious and immediate steps to ensure that all the evacuees are registered and confined to their respective camps, to avoid the danger of spying and sabotage by undesirable elements who may have entered in the guise of refugees and also to minimise the possibility of clashes between the and evacuees and our people in the Border areas and elsewhere as well which will give rise to law and order problem.
Sir, with the influx of the evacuees, the increase in the population has caused a great alarm on the very machinery of the State itself. Where relief operation and supply are concerned, in respect of the evacuees, the people of the State are being exploited by the abnormal raise in prices of all commodities, shortage of foodstuff and medical facilities which are detrimental to the health of one and all.
The Government of Meghalaya though has expressed sympathy for the evacuees in line with the national policy of the Government of India, yet if the present influx continues, a time will come when our Government will not be in a position to cope with the unforeseen problem resulting there from since the State is just a little over year old and has no police force of its own to deal with matters requiring such a force.
In view of what I have already expressed, I beg that this House should place the matter as it is before the Government of India so that it will realise the problem posed by the influx of such a large number of evacuees to our State, which cannot longer be effectively tackled with. This Government also should urge upon the Government of India to minimise the burden of our State by shifting the evacuees from their present camps to other sister States in the country. This is not to ill - treat the evacuees but to ameliorate their conditions on humanitarian grounds.
Secondly, this house should urge upon the Government of India and strengthen its hands to find out ways and means to bring about early normalcy in East Bengal and to ensure complete return of all evacuees to their respective and beloved homelands.
In conclusion, with deep and sincere concern over this problem, I joint hands with the mover of the motion and the previous Speakers and I do hope that our sincere efforts on humanitarian point of view will not go unheeded. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
Dr. S.C. Deb :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is no time now.
Mr. Speaker :- You can continue in the after noon.
Dr. S.C. Deb :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the massive influx of over 6 million refugees to the States in India bordering Bangladesh, namely Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal, has created a problem which because of its magnitude and pathos has become the talk of the entire its magnitude and pathos has become the talk of the entire world today. For India, the country which ahs to provide food, shelter and other essentials for subsistence to this mass of persecuted humanity, the burden is a back - breaking one. The unmanageable number of refugees, the suddenness with which the borders of the receiving States, were flooded by them and the emotional overtones caused by the inhuman atrocities perpetrated on the people of Bangladesh by the armies of West Pakistan which started this influx, had stunned the administration both at the Centre and the States concerned. But the whole country rose as one man to protest against this barbarous assault by an army equipped with sophisticated armaments against an absolutely unarmed and unsuspecting population leaving death, dis-honour and devastation in its wake. It is also girded the up its loin to face the task of looking after the refugees to the best of its ability.
The problem being a national one, the Centre rightly accepted the responsibility of providing funds and materials for offering relief to the evacuees. But soon the influx assumed proportions which made it impossible for the weak financial resources of the country and so appears were made to the international community to come to the help of India, into which country the frantic people of Bangladesh has flown for the only reason that it is their nearest neighbouring land where they can be safe from the persecution of the pursuing West Pakistan Army. Although the response of most countries had been tardy at he beginning, the actual state of affairs in Bangladesh is being increasingly realised by all countries, as well as their responsibility in the mater of providing relief to the refugees and help in money and materials has started flowing in even if it is far less than the expectation of India.
As in the case of India the burden of refugees has fallen on its shoulder for no other reason then geographical proximity, so also has the task of accommodating the refugees and administering the relief measures devolved upon the bordering States for the same reason. So long only the bordering States of Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal have been bearing the brunt of the influx but now it is becoming impossible for them to bear the burden and dispersal of a fraction of the refugees to other States is being arranged by the Centre.
Mr. Speaker :- You will continue in the afternoon. The House stands adjourned till 2 P.M. today.
The Assembly met in the Assembly Chamber at 2 p.m. with the Speaker in the chair.
Mr. Speaker :- Now I would request Dr. S.C. Deb to continue his speech.
Shri Ripple Kyndiah :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to raise a point of order. The mover of the motion has made a statement regarding the alleged demolition of a Church House by the military authority in certain village in the border. I feel that the report is not entirely correct on account of the two reasons. Firstly, the statement has been made on the basis of a second-hand information and secondly, the whole area in the border has become highly sensitive and much more so in view of the influx. I would, therefore, suggest that the portion of the statement should be expunged from the proceedings.
Mr. Speaker :- I will give my ruling on this only when the Chief Minister has clarified the position and also when he has made a statement on it. Actually, it is not a point of order rather it is a point of clarification.
So, I will request Dr. S.C. Deb to continue his speech.
Dr. S.C. Deb :- On a purely numerical basis the number of evacuees may be less than West Bengal and Tripura in Meghalaya- the latest available figures being nearly 2½ lakhs in Meghalaya-but if all the existing conditions are taken into consideration it will be seen that catering for this number also is well beyond the capacity of this State. Firstly, our administration is in the saddle for only a year in a newly founded State and has had hardly time enough to stand on its feet when it was suddenly called upon to face an unthought of situation of gigantic magnitude. Before adequate arrangements could be made for their reception thousands of refugees flooded every possible inlet into our borders and quite understandably all was confusion for a time. Naturally there have been lapses giving rise to all kinds of speculations, but with the administration tightening up its machinery and gearing it to the requirements of the situation, I hope things will rapidly improve now to the satisfaction of all concerned.
An off shoot of the confused conditions at the beginning has been the crisis of confidence among the different sections of our citizen. The local people, particularly in the villages along the border became apprehensive at the sudden influx of people from across the border in numbers far exceeding the local population who had perforce to live upon the meagre supply of foodstuff in the local markets until Government could arrange for their ration. Added to this was the fear that the future socio-economic and political set up might be jeopardized if a substantial number of refugees becomes permanent settlers in this area. This is a very natural apprehension and a lot of it could be removed if the Government had been able to visualise it in time and had taken appropriate measures to educate the people about the actual state of affairs and the measures contemplated to be taken to prevent any such thing happening.
Firstly, it is necessary that every one comes to learn that the policy of the Government of India is that the refugees should be accommodated for as small a period as possible and that all of them must be sent back to their homes as soon as conditions there permit. That is why our Prime Minister never tires of repeating it on every possible occasion that the refugees are with the us only temporarily and that conditions must be created in Bangladesh so that all these refugees can go back with reasonable guarantee or security. To that effect she is also trying to influence the major countries of the world to pressure Pakistan Government to come to a political settlement with the leaders of Bangladesh, which alone can create a climate suitable for the return of the refugees.
Secondly, it is also necessary that the refugees be made to feel at home as fear as circumstances permit. There might be excuse for certain amount of mis - management and lack of co - ordination at the beginning when a lot of refugees had to go without shelter, ration and medical aid for some time , but I think sufficient time has passed for the Government to have rectified these deficiencies and there should not be any reason for complaints on these ground any more.
Lastly, it must be realised by not only the personnel engaged in the camps but by all citizens that this is purely a humanitarian work which calls for understanding, sympathy and consideration for the unfortunate people who have taken shelter here losing everything they had and in many instances their near and dear ones. It is regrettable that instances of harassment of those refuges who want to travel from the camps and their relatives who go to visit them with valid permits from the Government are still occurring. Even in the town of Shillong instances of searching of private houses for refugees by unauthorised persons, though much less than it had been a few days back, are still heard of. It is desirable that the police force be asked to be more alert to prevent both these kinds of undesirable action.
This is a matter of national emergency and as in times of other emergencies facing the nation, it is the duty of all political parties worth the name of the to bury their hatchets and rally solidly behind the Prime Minister to demonstrate that the whole nation is resolved to see that justice is done to the downtrodden people of Bangladesh, that democratic rights and principles are upheld and that the virtual invasion of India by the refugees is totally vacated.
In the meantime it is with a spirit of Christian charity that we look after those unfortunate people who have sought shelter in our State for the time being, throwing themselves at our mercy and with a sense of fellowship to the best of our ability. If we fail in it will be a slur on the fair name of our State in the country and on the fair name of India as a whole among the international community. I, therefore, request that the Government applies itself, to this task with the sense of urgency that it demands.
To every hon. Member of the august House, to whatever shade of political opinion they may belong, I would fervently appeal to carry the message of good will to all their constituents, to explain to them that the worst thing that can happen to the very objectives for which they are striving, is a breach in the peace full and harmonious conditions in which the different sections of the citizens have been living so long over the issue of the refugees. It will not only besmear the fair name of the local people known for their accommodation and hospitality but also alienate the sympathy and goodwill for out nascent State.
Sir, it is no doubt a herculean task, but it is certainly not impossible or accomplishment by the united effort of an entire people. It is upto the hon. Members of the House who are all leaders of the public to see that public opinions and public effort are mobilised to this end.
As regards allaying the misapprehensions prevailing among different sections of the community, I beg to submit that is a matter for both the Government and the leaders of the public opinion to apprise the people of the objectives of the Government and the measures being taken to achieve that objective.]
I think it will help matters if the Government issues press notes, preferable once every week to tell the people about the number and rate of arrival or departure of refugees the measures taken to see that they do not scatter among the population unnecessarily and also the measures taken to keep track of those refuges, who have been allowed to come to stay with their relatives for convenience or on compassionate grounds.
We must through you, Mr. Speaker, Sir, express our appreciation to all the Voluntary Organisations who have contributed immensely and are still continuing to give relief to the refugees of Bangladesh.
With these words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri Galynstone Laloo :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, while taking part in the discussion on the problem created by the influx of refugees into our State, I would like to inform the House that in my constituency, there are tour refugee camps, namely (1) Boittah, (2) Pongtung (3) Sahkyrda and (4) Madan Lyntad. These camps are situated within an area of one square mile and within this area, there are two villages, namely (1) Pongtung and (2) Nongshyrngan with a population of about 450 people. They are surrounded by 4 camps where 22,000 refugees are kept. They are now living and facing great difficulties when the villages are so thickly populated. The people of Rimassar and Nongtyngur villages have to close down the drinking water pipe lines due to pollution of their Rymben drinking water. In the camps, there are leprosy patients and other contagious diseases. These refugees are subject to various diseases because the climatic condition does not suit them. Further, they are allowed to move about and they use to come up to Siatbakon village a village 3 miles away from the camps. Some of them roam about in the forests and destroy people's cultivation. I would also like to inform the House that the area where the camps are situated falls within a belt of heavy rains and cyclone. In the interest of the precious life of the refugees, I am afraid, that the erected camps may one day collapse when heavy monsoon and cyclone set in. In this area during the monsoon cyclone used to come at least once a year and if this happens, it may take away the lives of the refugees, the shifting of these 22,000 refugees to any plain area where climatic conditions suit them, becomes a necessity. Mr. Speaker, Sir, another problem is now coming up. The firing by the Pakistani forces across has forced the inhabitants of Umsiem Umkrem, Pyrdiwah Kongwang villages to leave their homes. These people of our own have become destitutes and faced great difficulties. As far as my knowledge goes, these people have not been taken care of so far. They are no better than the uprooted evacuees of Bangladesh.
I urge upon the Government to take immediate steps to provide them with all the requirements for existence life otherwise, these people will face starvation.
With these few words, I resume my seat.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very glad that this House has fixed a time for discussion on the problems connected with the influx of refugees from East Pakistan in o Meghalaya during 1971. First of all, I must thank the hon. Member who has moved the motion. This motion is really a very important one and I think everyone of must think over the matter seriously, because in such a new and small State we have got 2½ lakhs of refugees. It is really a very big problem, for the Meghalaya Government. But this problem does not affect Meghalaya alone. It is problem of the whole nation. The refugees are still coming to unabated. Even though the number is small now , but the problem of giving them shelter food, medical aid and other facilities has become a gigantic task for a small State like Meghalaya. But from the humanitarian point of view, we cannot refuse them. In Garo Hills alone, we have got more than 1,60,000 refugees.
Sir, I want to make a short reference to the cause the influx in of the refugees.
Mr, Speaker :- The cause of the influx is know to the whole House. The mover of the motion had also made reference to it by way of a prologue.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- Then after the untold sufferings and miseries there in East Bengal, many of the local villagers, boys and girls and others even missionaries fled away for life and crossed over to Meghalaya, to Dalu as evacuees. Some of them resisted against the army for life and and risked their life for their mother land. Inhuman treatment has been meted out to the people of our neighborhood. Shall we remain merely as spectators, shall we not join hands to help the freedom fighters ?
Mr. Speaker :- That is a question to be decided by the India Parliament and not by our Assembly.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- Because they are fighting for their own cause, and for the right of democracy. So I am referring to that. My humble opinion is that, India should come forward to give recognition to the Bangladesh Government so that others may follow.
Mr. Speaker :- Even if we want to give recognition, we cannot do that. In the last session this House had already expressed our solidarity with the people of Bangladesh.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- I am expressing my opinion only. At Dalu I used to go to the camps just to see the conditions of the refugees how they are were being accommodated and how they were being taken care, of and at that time I rather wondered to see some of the Jawans, who were there just to protect us, coming forward to help the distressed people by distributing packets of food and chapattis and other eatable things and the distressed people were very happy. But just on the other side of the border, which is not very far from our place, along the border the Pakistan Army used to come and visited the places and instead of giving them food and consolation the Pakistan Army used to kill them by bullets.
Mr. Speaker :- Who kill them by bullets ?
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- The people on the other side.
Mr. Speaker :- It is for the information of the Member that it is not in the power if the House to discuss the activities of our defence forces not the activities of the our foreign embassies because it is concerned mainly with broad national policy.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want to say something on what has happened at Dalu, which is my own place. May I do that Sir ?
Mr. Speaker :- Yes.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- The influx of refugees during 1971, the exodus of people from East Bengal to Meghalaya through Daly in Garo Hills is really an unprecedented one. Never before such a big number of refugees came across the border to Garo Hills. During the last two months more than one lakh sixty thousand have already crossed over to Garo Hills.
Mr. Speaker :- You have again repeated it.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- The Government of Meghalaya has been trying to keep these evacuees in and around Dalu area by starting camps and and constructing sheds and shelter. Many of the refugees are taking shelter in the villages.
Mr. Speaker :- The motion clearly says the House will only discuss about the problems connected with the influx of evacuees. But you are talking about the steps taken by the Government.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- You will be surprised to hear that the villagers are sharing their own houses and sheds at Dalu area. In some houses, Hindu families, Muslim families and Garo Families are living under the same roof sharing rooms among themselves. The House and the places have become so much congested that there is no more space to live and many of the people are just living in the open fields and under the trees. One Garo man, out of love and sympathy with the distressed persons has given his own house to a number of Behari families and he himself with his family has shirted to another house. By these actions, I cannot, but appreciate the kind hospitality of the local people and up till now there is no disturbance or quarrel between the refugees and the local people there. As the construction of refugees camps is not yet com0leted, many families are living scattered in bazar areas, road - sides, and under the trees. Oh ! what a miserable time they are passing during the rains. They do not get Slater at all in the houses. But whether they get or not, they had to remain under the trees and in the open field and thus the condition is very much miserable. So I wish that the Government will take up this matter to expedite construction of the camps so that all the evacuees can be kept in the camps for proper care etc.
An unhappy incident had happened at Dalu-Kelpara bazar area on the morning of 25th May, during which many people died including 9 B.S.F personnel and three local people. The Pak Army attacked the place from three sides from the east, west and from the south and entered into Indian territory and killed many people. But I am sorry to say that there was no resistance from our side to repulse them and they went back after some time at their own sweet will. This situation was apprehended by the local people and to keep up public confidence and security we requested the Chief Minister, Meghalaya to deploy some army personnel there for defence. We are very glad that actually the help came but that was too late
Now, everybody got frightened and started running their own lives to safer places, The sad plight of the people both local and refugees, was really a pathetic scene. People started streaming towards Barangapara from all sides. Among them some parents came carrying their children in their children in their shoulders, who are wounded and dead.
Mr. Speaker :- I think you are narrating the story without discussing the problem.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- So, seeing all these, the local people from the adjoining villages got frightened and started shifting to interior villages leaving their hearths and homes and in this way about 6 to 7 thousand people of the locality have already become homeless and now they are living as local refugees elsewhere. Some are taking shelter in the houses of the relatives and some are making houses for themselves in the jungles, In this way by giving shelter and accommodation to the Bangladesh evacuees, our own local people have been turned into refugees. Even though refugees name is not to my linking, I have also become one of them, because I too, must leave my home and take shelter somewhere.
Mr. Speaker :- By your own sweet will ?
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, time and again sometimes due to failure of crops and sometimes due to influx of refugees, the economic condition of the border people has been very much shattered and the condition of the border people has been deteriorating.
Mr. Speaker :- I must remind the hon. Member not to repeat the same points which have been raised by others and I think the whole House will be too glad to hear the reply from the Chief Minister a little later.
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- I think it invites the special attention on the Government to rehabilitate these displaced local people at an early date.
So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to urge upon the State Government through you to take necessary action to find out ways and means to rehabilitate these local displaced persons in their own places, at the shortest possible time, in order to save them from distress and frustration by giving proper safeguard and assistance.
Mr. Speaker :- Do you mean to return to your home when these people return to their homes ?
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- I mean especially those villagers who have left hearths and homes already. These people generally are very poor that once they have left homes they could not rehabilitate themselves. I think it is the duty of the Government to take necessary action to rehabilite them.
Mr. Speaker :- Permanently or temporarily ?
Shri Nimosh Sangma :- It is up to the Government (Laughter). Thank you Sir.
Shri S.P Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to participate in the discussion of the evacuees problem. The problem is created due to the evacuees problem. The problem is created due to the heavy influx of refugees and the constant firing by the Pakistani forces in to our territories. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it was on the floor of the House in the last Session that we have had to opportunity of expressing our great concern over the possibility of refugees influx in to our State. As the a consequence of the breakdown of the political settlement in Pakistan which led to an are conflict and which is going on till date, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the problem facing us to day, the problem for the younger State of Meghalaya with all its handicaps is too gigantic as some of the hon. members have expressed. The problem is how to provide them with shelter in the absence of spacious flat lands, how food supplies and other relief materials. to the camps, Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, most of our roads in the border areas are fair, weaker roads and there is no interlink between one road and the other leading to the camps. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is really a big and complicated problem for the State of Meghalaya to provide doctors. Even in normal times there are dispensaries in the state where there are no doctors and nurses. The situation is such that it has forced the Government to requisition private cars, trucks, lorries, and busses. The Government cannot help doing that in the absence of its own trucks, buses and cars. This requisition by the Government of private, cars, truck lorries and buses has also a great effect. The effect is that the vehicles owners the trucks owners and the bus - owners who depend on the income from the vehicles had to suspend their business and the whole family had to suffer because they had to suspend there business but there is no way out. The food supplies and all other relief materials should reach the camps in time and in a regular manner. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the whole machinery of the State especially, the Block Development Officers and the contingents of those Blocks in the border region have been utilised in the works for the refugees in the camps and as such they have to suspend all their normal developmental activities. In this respect also our people in those areas are affected where developmental activities have to to be stopped. This Mr. Speaker, Sir, has another effect and the effect is that the people especially the rural people, in the absence of wide publicity of the urgency to meet the situation, the people may misunderstand the policy of the Government. Another thing Mr. Speaker, Sir, is the Police Force. The policy force of a single thana has to look after registration and also the screening of these evacuees and we know that this is the most difficulty task to be done by the Police in screening such suspecting Pakistani agents, spies saboteurs, provocateurs, smugglers and profiteers who may come or who may enter in to our territory in disguise of evacuees. How can a handful of Police Personnel in a thana cope with the works entrusted to them when thousand of refugees came and a day and for days together. The police with the work. Mr Speaker, Sir, giving shelter to the evacuees as some Members have referred to , is no doubt creating annoyance to the local people especially when their crops, fruits, vegetables and other food stuff in the locality have been destroyed.
Mr. Speaker :- Destroyed by whom.
Shri S.P Swer :- Destroyed by the huge influx of refugees, in this respect Mr, Speaker, Sir, I would like to refer to one instance at Diengrai, Ichamati, where one cultivator has already prepared seedlings what they called Areca nuts seedlings for the next planting season, but the whole thing is gone, I do not say that these evacuees did it purposely but became they are in the large number roaming about here and there in the camps they have stamped over these seedlings.
Another problem, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is due to constant firing by the Pakistani Army and the incursion into our territory which has caused many of our people near the border areas to be destitute. They have to leave their hearths and homes and become refugees in their own lands. Now the problem is really high and complicated that our Government has to face. We know that the price of all essential commodities also has gone up considerably and the disruption of normal trade channel has put our people in great hardship. The effect is that the purchasing power of these people is deplorable.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, we all know that the political aspirations of the people in Meghalaya have not been fully and practically met by the Government of India. There is the political unrest in the minds of the people.
Mr. Speaker :- How is this connected with the influx of refugees ?
Shri S. P Swer :- I am going to cite in stances of certain forces exercising the mind of the people. people had high hopes and expectations from the Government of Meghalaya, inspite of all handicaps that their inherent economic difficulties will be removed. All these high hopes and expectations are now in the process of erosions from the minds of the people. Also with the activities of provocateurs Pakistan agents, smugglers and profiteers there is an certain force working in the minds of the people. All these are working actively, and capitalising the whole situation. The feeling of insecurity is there, the feelings of being at a loss is there. I am afraid, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that all these fears and tensions have a certain force. All these forces that work in the minds of the people, when they gather momentum, may lead to another problem i.e., law and order problem. If the law and order problems arises, the question is in whose hands lies the public order. We know this does not lie in our hands. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not want to go any further on this point. As all these force are working in the minds of the people, it may lead the people to become demoralised and I feel that it should be the endeavor of the Government to alleviate the present new difficulties. I also feel that it is the duty of all sections of the people in Meghalaya to help to keep the morale of our own people high so that they can stand and face the situation in good spirit. We all know, that the Government of India ride to send emissaries to different parts of the world have favourable responded to help solving this great problem that India is facing today. I think more members of the Government of India should be sent to every part of the world and Mr. Speaker, Sir, I look forward to the time when all the countries of the world, especially of the super powers to realise and see the reality of the West Pakistani Military Junta's brutality to democratic people of Bangladesh and to look in to the happenings in Bangladesh in its proper colors and not through the jaundiced glass of military rules because the clear proof is the influx of refugees of India. With these words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri Samarendra Sangma :- Sir, may I speak in Bengali ?
Mr. Speaker :- you have always been expressing yourself in English and why not now also ? (Voices - Bangladesh.)
Shri Samarendra Sangma :- Alright Sir, I will try my best to speak in English. But I am afraid there will be many inconsistencies.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, from this very mornings session, many hon. Members have spoken many things, about the refugees, numbering 2½ lakhs coming from East Pakistan into Meghalaya. It is really a very unfortunate thing, that in this 20th century such genocide and ill - treatment upon the people by its own Government are going on. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the people of the whole world and the people of East Bengal were expecting their democratic rights and the whole population of East Pakistan has given its verdict in that way. But at last, the present military Government in Pakistan had given a serious blow to it and have obstructed that democratic right of the population of east Pakistan. And at the time due to the genocide and inhuman treatment of the Military Government on its own people for the last three months the exodus has taken place.
Mr. Speaker :- Let us go to the Genesis you can start from the Exodus (Laughter).
Shri Samarendra Sangma :- The overwhelming population, men women and children without any help and fold are compelled to cross over to our border and are taking shelter in our Meghalaya State. During the time, the Central Government has taken a very right stand. Our Prime Minister has spoken and made it known to the whole world that the India cannot remain silent in regard to these happenings in East Bengal because of its immediate proximity. As stated by our Prime Minister the Central Government is trying its best to the deal with the affairs by inducting world attention. But the brutal events that are taking place in East Bengal compelled a huge number of refugees, amounting to 6 millions to come to India in the meantime.
Mr. Speaker :- May I remind Mr. Samarendra Sangma that the stand of the Government of India is not different from the stand of the Government of Meghalaya. Meghalaya stands by the side of the Government of India's policy. But now the whole intention of this motion has been explained by the mover as to how to discuss the problems so far connected with our State.
Shri Samerendrra Sangma :- Yes, Sir, I am coming to that. My point is that these refugees should be sent to their own places with honour and dignity. It is with the most honest and humanitarian point of view that our Government have taken such relief work there. Mr. Speaker, Sir, now in our Meghalaya State, in the border areas 2½ lakhs refugees are staying and as everybody knows, our State is a new State and it has faced many difficulties due to partition new State and it has faced many difficulties due to partition which resulted in the influx on several occasions and this recent influx has aggravated the situation to the worst.
Now, I intend to say something about the camps. I myself, as far as practicable and possible have seen and worked at different camps. Our officers beings limited in number were very much overworked. They had to work from morning to midnight. Their work was of very difficult nature and the required help for the refugees was not obtained in proper time at the beginning. I just mention that foodstuff, tarpaulins etc, were not available at the beginning. The refugees were settled on the road side under the the shade of trees and continuous rain poured on them and in this way they were suffering. Anyway out Government was trying to help them but there were so many difficulties that our Government had to face. It was and it a gigantic task for us and for the Government and to tackle it inspite of the best efforts of Government and our officials. It is already two months or almost three months that the sites have been selected and sheds constructed and everything is being prepared for the convenience of the refugees as far as practicable but what I feel is that and I doubt much whether the situation will be such that these refugees will be able to go back to their own land. If it is done sooner the problem will be less but if it takes longer period say two years I cannot grantee it will be a most acute and critical problem for the country. Everything depends on the time factor and the peaceful solution of the self determination in East Bengal that the refugees will be compelled to stay here. So on this point I may be permitted to say something as the Central Government 8 is trying its best to tell the world powers the actual brutal happenings in East Bengal that our country is willing to send back the refugees those who are helplessly taking shelter in our country. Our Prime Minister also said that until and unless a proper and favourable atmosphere is created there for the refugees we cannot send those helpless refugees back to be butchered and exterminated. I understand and believe that our Government has taken due and proper steps to acquaint the nations of the actual happenings in East Bengal so that the world powers may come forward to help these refugees from humanitarian point of view and exert pressure on the Pakistan Military Government. Our Government is trying its level best to remove atmosphere of disappointment gradually from among the refugees. People of other nations now got the opportunity of knowing the real things that are happening in Pakistan and I think the matter is quite clear to everybody including the world powers. And this awakening now is reaching great proportion around the world.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, until and unless the world powers come forward and press hard upon the respective Pak Military. Government the right atmosphere will not prevail there. As a result there will be very serious things and it will take many years which I cannot imagine and in case it takes a long years our Government will be greatly affected. As told by the Prime Minister that in that situation India would take a drastic action and I do not know what it means. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I hope that the world powers will come forward and prevent the brutal killing and genocide East Bengal. Such things will not be allowed to happen there any more. We cry for democracy and we stand by it and so the Government of the world powers should come now and uphold democracy.
Now I come to the camp position Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have seen in my area that almost all the border camps are situated by the river side, and there was no other way because construction of the sheds for 5000 refugees required sufficient water and that is why the camps were constructed near the river banks. But during the rainy season there will be no provision to bring water as the water from the the river will be muddy, harmful and not fit for drinking. I have seen in some camp 2/3 tube well sand those also got out of order and became useless. This was reported to me. So I would request the Government to see that in each camp for 5000 refugees the required number of tube wells is provided. If it is not done it will give birth to many things which will trouble the Government and also the leaders there. Next, I want to point out one thing Mr. Speaker, Sir, So far I know almost all the refugees are inoculated against attack of cholera but in each camp of around it there are also many tribal villages. So are as I understand, Sir, no cholera injections are given to those tribal people. I draw the attention of the Government in this respect that until and unless steps are taken in the beginning there is a danger of wide - spread calamity and the situation will be out of c control. Mr, Speaker, Sir, I tell these things just to help the Government and also want to expedite the work so that there will be no criticism, and misunderstand.
At the beginning Mr. Speaker, Sir, there were so many difficulties which the department concerned had to face. But now things the are regularised greatly. It was stated that after the completion of the sheds in camps people do not get the money in time. Payment should be made within 2/3 days as is given to understand by the Government. If the contractors and local workers do not get payment then what will happen. If they do not construct the sheds, the progress of the entire camp will be slow, will not be effective and the helpless refugees will have to suffer. So I request the Government to look into this matter and forth with make payment of pay as soon as possible. I know there are many camps in the State and in my area there are several camps of 20,000 refugees which include Hindus, Muslims and other communities. There are many among them unregistered and they are staying with the local Hindus and Muslims at Mahendraganj. I call the attention of the Government to this so that those refugees who have not registered yet will get themselves registered. Mr. Speaker, Sir, in our Border areas with the influx of refugees actually the prices of essential commodities soared up and the Border people are facing very hard and acute days.
Mr. Speaker :- That is being repeated.
Shri Samarendra Sangma :- Then I will leave, it. Now I will come to another subject, that is maintaining peace in the camps. Though there are Police personnel and they are working the whole day and night, it is not possible for them to maintain peace and do everything. They are limited in number compared to the overwhelming refugees. So I thing more police should be sent to each camp. In the refugee camps I have seen that the sheds are constructed for refugees but in some places there are no accommodation for officers, for medical personnel etc., and every no go down where to stock rive and everything during the rains. I think Government will look into this matter and see that necessary action is taken. Mr Speaker, Sir, I do no not want to speak more. I feel that the people of East Bengal will achieve self determination and freedom even if none helps them but with their unity and by virtue of their inner strength they will be able to achieve their freedom. The sacrifices, the suffering will not be in vain. Thank you.
Mr. Speaker :- Mr. Justman Swer.
Shri Justman Swer :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would not take very long just a matter of five minutes. But first of all, before I proceed, I should express my appreciation to the mover of this motion and also to you, Sir, for having allowed this very important motion to be discussed on the floor of the House so that the Members can get a chance to express the reaction on this vexed and burning problem the event which is not welcome, unexpected and not wanted by any of us, and by neither the Government of India not the Government of Meghalaya, nor by the Government of West Bengal or Assam but was forced on us by West Pakistan for having unleashed their army to wipe out the entire East Bengal population to suppress their rightful aims and aspirations, which are democratic. It is an event which has come like a sudden flood and is binging along with it damages and ravages to the lives and property and also diseases and epidemic and problem, of all kinds. After so many Speakers have spoken in the morning and this afternoon, I find myself that all the problems arising from this event have been nattered and there is hardly anything more to for me to say. On the other hand, with your permission. Sir, I would like to deal with another aspect of this problem. This event in the first instance is an event which devolves an international responsibility and India is only an agent to discharge the responsibility and the State Governments of India are sub - agents, to discharge that responsibility. To that extent, I feel that the Government of India should see and consider the capacity of each unit. As if is not, in the State of Meghalaya, the problem has been that the burden has been given to the state Government which is to heavy. We have been given to take more than we can chew and beyond the limit of our competency. We have problems of in - sufficient and inadequate personnel either in the shape of doctors or officers to run and look after the camps. We have problems of not having sufficient land fir door camping. There may be more flat lands but the water - supply is the problem. The terrain of the southern slopes of the hills of Meghalaya are very steep and full of ravines and not fir for mass camping of lakhs of people.
Mr. Speaker :- That problem has been discussed thoroughly in the morning.
Shri Justman Swer :- I am coming to my point Sir. For that reason, Sir, I should suggest that the State Government should move the Central government to see that (1) the number of refugees should not be increased anymore.
No. 2 - I find that this refugees problem can be solved only by creating a new happy political situation and to that extent I think our State Government of Meghalaya may have a share to help, to work, together with the Government of India towards bringing about that situation., Because if that situation can be created these refugees can be sent back. As for our own refugees who have become panicky on account of shelling by the Pakistani Army towards their villages, that panic is even more now in view of the fact that one person was hit a few days ago be shell splinters. These people had been displaced from their own homes and they are afraid to go to the or "Bris" or orchards and they have left their homes, To that extent, the Minister for.Relief and Rehabilitation has been informed and he has been there some time ago. I do hope the Government in the Relief and Rehabilitation Department will do the needful and act as expeditiously as possible. Now, they are without work and food. I request the Government to create opportunity for them to do something during the interim period. They are away from home and some test relief work may be created.
I come to the point of settling some categories of refugees in the reserved forests. The hon. Mover of the Motion has spoken this morning.
Mr. Speaker :- Whether the hon. Member means people from the border or the displaced persons ?
Shri Justman Swer :- So I said some categories. Even then, I am going to talk about the policy of the Forest Department of the Government of Meghalaya. I have heard that in giving exchange of the paddy lands in the Reserved Forest Government insist on the contiguity of the exchanged area. The Mover of the Motion this morning has told the House that the reserve forests, particular the Narpuh Forest reserve is not of any use in view of the fact that it is inaccessible and that it is also so close to Pakistan. I would prefer that in the area in Narpuh Reserve as given in the exchange for paddy cultivation for another area Government may not insist that the exchanged area should be contiguous to the Narpuh reserve. Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not think I have anything more to speak. I am glad to say that I read this morning in the newspaper that 25,000 refugees are being removed to some other areas. I think Government will take further steps, so that the number is further reduced, to that extent only, so that we can give shelter and food to the refugees under our own control in a more efficient manner.
Shri Nurul Ismal :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, Bangalee words.
Mr. Speaker :- Now, I would request the hon'ble Relief and Rehabilitation Minister to reply.
Shri Standford K. Marak (Minister Relief and Rehabilitation) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am grateful to the hon. Members who have participated in the discussion on the question of evacuees in Meghalaya. I also full endorse and share the fear, anxiety and concern expressed by each Member. Sir, these refugees or evacuees were never invited by anybody to come but they came here under adverse circumstances and I do not think it necessary to explain the reason why they had to come from Bangladesh to our State or other parts of India. I will only deal with the measures that we have been taking in connection with providing food and shelter to these evacuees. Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the moment, we have constructed about 30 camps in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and 23 camps in Garo Hills. Unfortunately, these camps could not be constructed so easily because such huge influx was never expected and it was so sudden. When fresh influx of refugees came to Dawki side on 31st March, 1971 the total number was hardly 100 or so but then from 22nd May this influx suddenly increased beyond measure. On that day, I remember, I contacted Tura over telephone at 2 p.m and I was informed that about 5,000 evacuees had come across but on the following morning at 9 a.m. I was informed that already the swelling number of evacuees and had come to about 16,000. So, it was not possible for the Government to provide shelter readily for such huge number of uprooted evacuees. In this respects we had to face many difficulties, viz., there is the difficulty in getting flat lands in the hilly regions of Meghalaya unlike other States of Assam, West Bengal or Tripura , Secondly, the local people were not willing to spare land for the refugees. however, I am grateful to the local leaders such as M.D.Cs and M.L.As who had taken pain to convince the people on the construction of camps for the refugees.
Several Members have suggested that certain steps should be taken in connection with giving shelter to the refugees. In this connection, I am grateful to various organisations such as the Red Cross and some hospitals and dispensaries and other voluntary organisations which have contributed much. We have been receiving clothes, blankets and other things from the Red Cross Society and we have also received big quantities of articles like powder milk, baby food, etc, which could be sent to various camps through the help of the voluntary organisations. Then we had to see to the supply position. But unfortunately, because of the transport bottle neck. and non - availability of transport, trucks, etc, we could not move as early as possible. So we had to contact and request them again and again to wait for some time.
Now, we are also getting some foreign aid which is coming from the foreign countries and share is being given to Meghalaya also. I must not forget to mention about the sense of responsibility and hospitality shown by the border people. They know that they are hard - pressed, they have been economically hard - pressed due to the partition. Not only that since the partition there are as many as three influxes of refugees - one just after independence and the next in 1964 and now the bigger influx has taken place. But in spite of bitter experience they have had in earlier times, they have been very hospitable and sensible and they have been very kind and contributed much by giving lands and shelter. Government is also aware of the sufferings of the local people in the border areas and many of the Members have expressed the desire that something should be done to remove the sufferings experienced by the local people in the border areas. In this, connection, we have moved the Government of India telling them that our own local people who had suffered earlier also had again been suffering because of the influx of refugees and we have intimated the Government of India that their hearths and homes have been affected and had to be shifted to safer places and that for them also we required certain help. We may not able to give equal shares but definitely they deserve it and the necessity of rendering help to these people has already been intimated, but unfortunately we have not got any intimation from the Government of India. Most probably they will concede to it. Later on the Chief Minister will explain about our talk last time with the Prime Minister. It was pointed out that those who have evacuated the villages should also be given equal treatment. In fact, in certain parts of Garo Hills the officers in the field had to give them shelter and food or ration also.
Unfortunately, as many as 58 villages have been affected because of the heavy shelling, Because of uncertainty, fear and panic the villagers had to leave and ever abandon their cultivation. So, in the anticipation or the approval of the Government of India we have just instructed the officers. In the field to consider their cases and they have been getting rations as other refugees. In the same way, here in this district also, we had to consider some cases.
There have been some complaints about the inadequacy of medical facilities in the border areas. Mr. Speaker, Sir, all of us are aware that even in normal times we do not have enough doctors in our State to man the existing hospitals and dispensaries and for them we need para - medical staff. The shortage is not less than 40 now. Unfortunately, about 2½ lakhs of evacuees have crossed over and we had to withdraw many of our doctors to man the camps in the border areas. It is very unfortunate that we have been compelled to do that. We know that nurses and doctors are very much required. In our villages and the dispensaries. But in spite of that we were compelled to withdraw some of the doctors at the initial stage because doctors were not readily available from the Government of India. We have asked the Government of India to send about 30 doctors to Meghalaya to render relief to the refugees. We have so far received 39 doctors and out of them 24 have been retained in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and 15 doctors were sent to Garo Hills. Now with the coming of these doctors we hope that we will be able to release some of the doctors and send them back to their respective places or dispensaries. In the meantime, we have got a clearance from the Government of India that the refugees doctors who are found competent and who possess the qualification and can satisfy the authorities that they are competent medical practitioners can also be utilised. I do not know the exact number but some doctors have already been employed. I am also told by some voluntary organisations that some more doctors will be coming in the near future and that they will be coming by turn.
We are also aware that many of the local people have not been inoculated and we had to give notices sometimes that for want of medicines, vaccines, etc, it could not be done. As far as I know, our medical staff, it spite of the handicaps, have been trying to give relief by giving inoculation to the local people. But we can very well imagine the position of doctors also. Only one doctor in certain camps with about 40,000 refugees is working and everybody wants inoculation and vaccination. So, it is not possible humanly for doctors to cover the entire area in a short time. Anyway, that will be looked in to.
We are have given proper consideration and we will see that the local people are not neglected. Contagious diseases or epidemic may break out at any moment and we have instructed our medical staff ad I hope that in the near future inoculation in the border areas will be completed.
We are also thinking of having mobile dispensaries and mobile hospitals and we have already received about 10/20 mobile dispensaries. These mobile dispensaries will move from one camp to another to cater to the needs of the people.
Regarding supply, I am sorry to say that on certain occasions it was not possible on the part of the Government to rush supplies to certain parts of the State. The reason is this, as somebody had mentioned that it is that extremely difficult to get trucks and all the truck owners are almost revolting.
Their cases are genuine. The Government have to catch vehicles running on the street for relief works and as a result most of the vehicles, went out of the road. Last time a complaint or allegation has appeared in the newspaper that it is simply because the contractors for fear of epidemic could not reach or refused to take the supplies to Balat. It was not that we did not make food supplies available to the refugees. But the thing is that as you all know, there are certain customary rules we have to observe and there must also be something particular in the villages that the contractors would not like to go there because once they go to the camps they will not be allowed by the villages elders to go back. The villages elders think that they bring diseases. In fact in the district of Garo Hills, if anything breaks out particularly cholera an small - pox, the whole village will be evacuated and the villagers will go to the jungles and live there. Not even a near relative will; come. Some special messenger of special arrangement will have to be made for throwing food to the affected people. So most probably last time the supply of food - stuff was some times delayed, it was because of that fear, I do not know how far it is correct. So, to say that the Government has not been trying to make food supplies available is not correct. In fact in order to improve the situation, the Government of India had agreed to have the Food Corporation go downs and ware houses constructed own in Shillong and one at Tura in the Meghalaya areas.
So I would like to remind the House that we do not mean to neglect all the requirements and needs of the local people and we have also taken in to consideration the necessity of opening fair - price shops in various parts of the Border areas for the local people. So, as I said, that due to the heavy influx of refugees, it was not possible for us to improve the situation. Some of the Members have also stressed the need for fixing the minimum of the maximum number would like to remind the House, that the last time the Prime Minister of India had said that Meghalaya would be able to accommodate or to give temporary shelter only for 60,000 evacuees in each district, that means 60,000, in the Garo Hills and 60,000 in the United Khasi and Jaintia Hills. At the moment, we have 2½ lakhs registered refugees. So I think we have to pursue the Government of India to understand the conditions prevailing in Meghalaya. In fact it has been made clear to the Prime Minister that because of the various difficulties such as heavy rain and difficult terrains, it would not be possible to accommodate larger number of evacuees. At the moment, we have so far received one crore from the Government of India for meeting the expenditure relating to refugee relief words. This amount will not be sufficient and we will have to ask to for more funds. The Government of India have made it clear that whatever amount the Government of Meghalaya spent for the refugees, the same will be reimbursed. Mr. Speaker, Sir, hon. Members have also expressed something about the feelings of the local people. I this quite natural, I would not say that it is the feeling of the tribal people of Meghalaya alone. The same feeling is prevailing among most of the border States. It is the same feeling of the tribal people of West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Such feeling, I think, is due to the fact that that influx of refugees, was sudden and as such it has created that sense of fear, that sense of insecurity in the minds of the people. So in the order to remove that fear and apprehension, it is not only the duty of the leaders of the various political parties but it will also be the duty of every citizen. I would therefore, request in this connection not only the tribals, in of Meghalaya but would appeal to other people to realise that they are also equally responsible. So it is the duty of each citizen in Meghalaya to convince the people that as soon as the atmosphere is created in Bangladesh, these evacuees will have to go back to their own homeland. Many hon. Members had made mention of the determination of Prime Minister of India, that these refugees will be sent back as soon as the situation is created in Bangladesh. So my appeal in this connection would be to understand the situation and to appreciate the feelings of the local people, the feeling of the other people and that of the hon. members themselves.
Regarding inadequacy of screening as other Members mentioned, Mr. Speaker, Sir, unfortunately the Police force which should tackle this matter is not sufficient and in fact we have tried to get more Police personnel to do the screening. I quite agree that with the influx of refugees there may be some agents, saboteurs and others who have infiltrated but then until and unless proper screening is done it will be dangerous for this State to have such bad elements. Such instances have been cited by some of the local people of Garo Hills who apprehend that in the near future something explosive may take place. The police, in spite of their best efforts have been unable to cope with the task. To check the vast number of incoming and outgoing refugees is a tough job and I would request the Members to realise the difficulties of the Police personnel and also the work undertaken t by them and take interest by way of supplementing their job and help in screening the refugees, and detect those unpinning refugees and evacuees who inspite of repeated requests tried to come to the city to settle secretly there. I have personally tried and it was in Garo Hills that I formed a volunteer corps about fifty local boys and girls who went to Dalu to help the Police and local administration. Misunderstanding existing between the refugees and the local people should be removed. With a view to removing mutual misunderstanding and mutual fear this volunteer corps managed to bring about good relation between the refugees and the local people within a week and their work was extremely well that one of the leaders of Bangladesh even wanted to allow his vehicle to be used by these volunteers but because of certain rules it was found not possible. The refugees in Garo Hills and Dalu appreciated the activities of the volunteers which had succeeded in removing the fear that has been confusing the refugees. So it will be not the same line that this force will be organised and I hope it will go a long way in creating an atmosphere congenial both for the local people and for the refugees posted together. Regarding special relief measures for our local people this is being examined. Special work win be created for the border people to have something to do. Most of the local people do not want to sit idle. They wants to do something not just to get anything without doing some work. We understand their mentality and Government will not forget them. It will look into this and I am sure there are also many measures taken by Government. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to take more time but the Chief Minister will require much more time than I. So I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker :- Shri J.D Pohrmen, you have the right to reply.
Shri J.D. Pohrmen :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, before taking advantage of the opportunity to have some say, I would like to request the House, through you, that the statement made by me this morning relating to the destruction of a Presbyterian Church by the military authorities may kindly be expunged from the proceedings of the Assembly. That statement I made this morning.
Observation from the Chair.
Mr. Speaker :- The hon. Member has placed me in a very very difficult position. There is no provision in the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the House regarding expunction of a part of the speech made by any hon. Member on the floor of the House. Rule 304 clearly states that the Speaker can order the expunction of any unparliamentary, any in dignified words or expressions but it does not refer to any of the part of his speech or part of the statement. "The practice in the House of Commons is also to avoid expunction. My only recourse will be a reference to "The Practice and Procedure in Parliament" by Kalu and Shakdher, page 822. Even in this particular case, Kaul and Shakdher clearly say that "In exceptional cases where the above remedies were considered inadequate, expunction of the objectional words or expression was ordered. (a) In such cases the general practice was to obtain the formal consent of the House. " in Kaul and Shadher it clearly refers to objectionable words or expression. There is another difficulty. At the time when the hon. Members, the mover of the motion this morning made his speech nobody objected when he referred to this instance. I am placed in a very very precarious position that the hon. Member who made the speech himself has come forward to request the Speaker to expunge part of his speech to from the proceedings of the House. I have no power to do that, but the House I think can do if it feels necessary. Let us create a new convention in this Assembly that whenever as hon. Member by himself makes an appeal to expunge a portion of his speech and if the whole House agrees such part of his speech may be expunged. The Speaker, has no power to do this by himself. I do not know whether this convention will be helpful for future guidance. The only course that I have to do now in spite of this very difficult position is to place the proposal before the House. Since there is nobody to bring forward the motion, I can put the motion myself. (The motion for the expunction of Shri J.D. Pohrmen's speech regarding the destruction of the Presbyterian Church was put to vote and was carried).
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Has it has been done by our own Military people ?
Mr. Speaker :- The portion Mr. J.D Pohrmen's speech beginning from "Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would through you bring to the notice of the House that only yesterday I received a report that some betel nut, orange plantation and pineapple gardens have been destroyed and what is worse, even the ....... should be expunged from the proceedings of the House. In spite of the fact that a particular portion of the speech is expunged, I would like to to make a fervent appeal to each and every member of this House that wherever they make a speech, they should look upon this House as a sacred institution. They should consider that they are in a place sanctified by the Constitution of the country, by the laws of the land and by the conventions and practices. Hence forth, whenever any hon. Member makes a speech, he should not speak for the sake of speech but he should think, twice, thrice before uttering a word and by that constant habit, I hope such action can be avoided, by improving our own standard from time to time. Thank you all.
May I request the Chief Minister to wind up the discussion.
*Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would be very happy to take the full privilege and opportunity to apprise the House of the problems created by the influx of refugees from East Bengal. But unfortunately, I am not in good health, so I have requested my colleague, Minister for Relief and Rehabilitation to deal with the points raised by the hon. Members.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I believe everyone in the House will fully realise the fact that this problem linked up with the evacuees from East Bengal is not a choice of our own, not of the Government of India and not of the evacuees themselves. It has been forced on us by the situation prevailing in East Bengal which I should not go into the details. I believe everyone of us inside this House would not be willing to leave his home, whatever a number home it is. I remember there is a saying "Home Sweet Home, there is no place like Home". Therefore, while discussing the problem of evacuees, let us realise it in that context. I know that the 6 millions evacuees would not have liked to leave their homes in their country what ever humble they are. But unfortunately, they have been forced by circumstances to leave their house and find a save place for their shelter. They have been compelled to find shelter and naturalist they came to Meghalaya which is just on the border of East Bengal, so also Assam, West Bengal and Tripura. Therefore these evacuees from across the border fled to our territory as they have been compelled to do so. As I have said, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is not use at this stage to state the circumstances which have taken place and are still taking place in Bangladesh forcing people to leave their hearth and home. As a result the of this Problem created and forced on us, what would we do as the Government and the people of the country ? These 6 million people are also human beings like us. Let us think for a moment if we ourselves are in the same place and position of these unfortunate people who have come to our country. We would also like to get shelter in the country which is close to us, that is natural. Therefore, when we consider this problem in the first instance, I think we will have to consider the circumstances which have forced people to leave their hearth and home and seek shelter in our territory. All these apprehensions re taking place not only in Meghalaya, Assam and West Bengal but in other parts of the country also. But if we have daunts that these people by their own choice have left their homes and wanted to have a new place, a new home, then naturally there would be a genuine reason to have some resistance. While we discuss this problem let us also be guided by the policy of the Government of India of which Meghalaya is a part. It is purely simple from the humanitarian point of view that this problem of evacuees has been forced upon us. The Government have to decide to give them shelter and food purely on temporary basis. Once Government have decided, naturally they will have to temporary shelter and food. This decision should also be guided by certain policy linked up with the problem. The policy being that from the humanitarian point of view today, Government of India would have to give them temporary shelter and food. Once a situation is created in Bangladesh, these people should be able to return there. Government of India has made it clear that it has no intention what so ever to give them permanent rehabilitation. Therefore, the Government will have to fine, out ways so that these people can be sent back to their own homes when the situation is created. That is why originally, the Government of India have decided that temporary shelter be given to these people in the border State, namely, West Bengal, Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya, of course, Bihar also is in the picture. The hon. Members have very amply put before the House, with regard to certain difficulties which are beyond our control beyond our capacity which stood on the way of giving them temporary shelter in our State because of a hilly terrain and for want of flat areas where camps can be constructed for giving accommodation to the evacuees. Mention has also been made with regard to transport difficulty and other facilities. Government is fully aware of this fact. Even for the normal requirement of the people of the State, we had to depend for the supply of foodstuff from other parts of the country. It was also found that whatever food - stuff is imported it is very difficult to reach the border area because of bad communication. The roads have not been built and have not been designed to meet the heavy, traffic, even the small traffic cannot ply on these roads throughout the whole year during the rainy season due to the damages of bridges, landslide for days and weeks together. There have been occasions when food - stuff cannot reach the people especially the border areas and some parts of the State and these difficulties are there. We do not have stocks and food but it had to be brought from outside for supply to our own people. Now these are the difficulties. Now when we have to build camps for the evacuees even on temporary basis, the minimum requirement for the sanitary conditions and to make the people live there, certain amenities must be provided., water supply is essential , medical aid is essential a part from the fact that supply of the State, we found that there is huge rushed of evacuees. We have to look for the nearest place for giving some sort of reception so we had to open reception centres and therefore, to avoid being exposed to sun and rain, we had to find flat lands and we have started constructing camps. After the camps have been constructed, we started taking up water supply programme and we started sinking tube-well. We found it comes across the rock, it could not go. So water supply could not be provided. We could not sink tube well. These are practical difficulties which stood on the way, it is not because we want to shift the responsibility.
I would be the happiest man as the leader of the newest, youngest and smallest State if this burden which has fallen on us can be tackled with efficiency, to other it is not possible to tackle it. I would, therefore, make an appeal to the people of this State and of the country as a whole not to misunderstand the Government of Meghalaya. Unfortunately, I have come across a news item in which some self - interested people had the occasion to blame the Government of Meghalaya and the people of Meghalaya without going into the actual state of affairs. Mr. Speaker, Sir, as has been pointed out by my colleagues, taking all these practical difficulties of communication and other factors into account, it is no use for me to tell the Government of India that whatever number of evacuees may come to Meghalaya, we will have to accommodate them on temporary basis. That is why we have had occasion not only during the last visit of the Prime Minister on the 8th of May and all the Chief Ministers of border States of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Bihar had occasion to meet the Prime Minister on this problem and express that since this problem is a national problem rather an international problem, all the States in the country should be prepared to share the responsibility of looking after the evacuees by way of giving them temporary shelter and food. But as I said earlier, the Government of India was reluctant to agree to the proposal.
Is it because the Government of India wanted to give the burden to the State in the border areas ? No, Since they are not going to have permanent rehabilitation in India, and till the situation is created in East Bengal, these people should be kept along with the border States, so that when the situation eased, it will be easy for the Government to send them back across the border to their homes. That was number one.
No. 2 even if it was possible on the temporary basis to disperse the evacuees and provide temporary shelter and food elsewhere in the country, it is difficult on account of transport, as the hon. Members know that our transport capacity is limited, either by rail or by road. If the evacuees are to be taken to Mysore, U.P Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and other States, it will take almost six months to remove them. We have constructed a number of new camps in Garo Hills on the roads adjacent to Baghmara, a small village on the border and that is my birth place. As rightly pointed out by Mr. Kyndiah, that villages is a small village with a population of 3000 and now we have more than 40,000 refugees in that camps. It is just in the hill slope, just on the Pakistan border. There we have built some small camps to accommodate 4,800 people, who have to be taken out. The plans have to be taken up. If the new camps have been constructed elsewhere, I have passed orders that the people from Baghmara should be taken to the new camp sites. They can take only 50 persons per day. We do not have trucks. The trucks which goes to Baghmara with food - stuff carries only 50 persons while it comes back. If only 50 persons can be taken out, how long will it take to remove these refugees I leave it to you to calculate. Last night I have telephone to the Deputy Commissioner to ask what is the progress of shifting these people to the new camps. 7 (seven) new camps have been constructed, in which 5,000 people can be accommodated. The question of shifting these people is the problem of transport we have asked the Government of India, Relief and Rehabilitation Department, to give us 45 trucks. According to my information, 15 chassis, have arrived. Now, it will take time to construct the bodies. 30 more are yet to arrive. We have also asked for 30 jeeps for the camps but they have not yet come. It is on all these considerations on the part of the Government of India that they thought it would not be possible to disperse the evacuee population from the border States. But still the number has gone beyond our expectation and the Government of India now finds it impossible to confine these evacuees or to allow them to have temporary shelter in the border areas. So, there has been some modification in the Government of India's policy with regard to giving shelter and food for the entire evacuees. As I have said, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is not that because we shirk but because of these conditions, transport and also want of flat space and shortage of medical facilities and all these things, we find it will not be possible to keep the evacuees even on temporary basis. Today I must admit that out of 2½ lakhs of refugees, many are still without accommodation. I think out of 2½ lakhs, at least 60,000 are still without house. But I must make it very clear that it is not we who choose to have this kind of situation. It is impossible as, you know, in Meghalaya, both in Garo , Hills and Khasi and Jaintia Hills our people live on jhumming system of cultivation. And they clear all the jungles, burn trees and grasses and everything , burn them into ashes and after that they grow paddy and cash crops. But unfortunately, the evacuees are coming to our State just after this has been done. Even we raise temporary sheds with grass and thatch. So, we have tried out best, as Mr. Kyndiah has said this morning. Sir, we have come into being only one year before. Today almost all my colleagues, excepting those who have their residence in Shillong and except me are still like refugees we have not been able to provide accommodation to them. They are in rented houses and they are shifting from one house to another. In spite of our desire to have a proper machinery to run the State of ours, we are not yet about to have a proper machinery and adequate number of officers and staff and to create a number of departments. There was a question this morning as to the number of Directorates so far created in Meghalaya. Sir, I have replied to that. So, we are in the process of building up a machinery. We do not have sufficient man power and materials to cope with this problem. But I must say, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that we have tried our best. But if the people do not appreciate it, I cannot force them to do so. But I must repeat that we have tried our best. I know even today that the evacuees should be given proper coverage. If they are exposed to rain and sun, naturally, it will create a number of problems, I will try my best to provide shelter, but because of the difficulties which are beyond our capacity, it will not be possible to do so. I will make it very very clear that an attempt is being made to give these people some sort of shelter, some sort of coverage as far as possible. In this also, I have made it very clear that I have got 7 new centres where camps have been constructed for accommodation of the evacuees from Baghmara and those who have made temporary sheds along the border road from Baghmara to Dalu on both sides of the road.
My officer were telling me that in spite of their best attempt they could not procure sufficient number of trucks and whether they would procure sufficient number of order them to march. But how they can march 100 miles. If they are to march with their little belongings up to the new camps there will be another problem. That after each 10 miles or so there should be one temporary reception centres and there should be provision for food also. So there are so many practical difficulties in spite of one's best efforts. I would, therefore, request the people not to condemn outright anybody. Well Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am sure that after having had the opportunity to discuss the problem, the people will be in a position to know what has been done and what is being done for the people by the Government of Meghalaya in tackling this problem created by this huge influx.
Now, some of the Members have raised the questions of security, I am quite aware of the problem of security. It is a great problem. Because, large number of anti - social elements, spies, fifth columnists, saboteurs, etc. have come across the border along with the evacuees. It is obvious. But screening and registration are going on. We are examining how this question of security can be done more effectively attended to. As pointed out by some Speakers that the agency which is available for this particular job in Assam and Meghalaya is not adequate, while along with the evacuees, of about 2½ lakhs a large number of bad elements have also, entered into this territory. How this Government of Meghalaya, without any police force can simply just tackle this problem at the cost of the State ? I fully endorse their views. In fact, I was pressing the Government of India on this particular matter. In my own Sate if I am the authority to legislate and if I am to face the problem of giving shelter to the people, I must be adequately equipped. Well, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this regard I would like to say that the Government was not sleeping. I have had a discussion with the Chief Minister of Assam and I found he had realised our difficulty and I think something is going to happen very soon. The Government of Assam has also realised the problem which the Government of Meghalaya is facing and the former cannot afford to be a helpless spectator in this particular issue. So we are going to make some arrangement which I am not in a position to tell the House now. But for registration and screening the police force only is not adequate. Therefore, in order to assist the police force in the matter of registration, screening and collecting information, we have decided to raise a subsidiary force. This will assist the regular police force in the discharge of its functions; for the better administration in these camps located inside Meghalaya. The Governor has given order and I hope that the question of registration and security can be dealt with more effectively when this force comes in to existence.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, some of the Members have expressed certain apprehension, I mean, political apprehension among our local people. As somebody, I think Mr. Justman Swer, has pointed out that is this apprehension prevails only in Meghalaya, I should say that there are apprehensions in Tripura and perhaps in Assam also. Mr. Kyndiah has criticised that the Government is responsible for the apprehension. Mr. Kyndiah had occasion to criticise the Publicity Deptt. of the Government of Meghalaya. If these facts were made available to the people, this apprehension might have been avoided. For inadequacy of the Department I had to take the full responsibility. I regret, I am trying my best to strengthen the Department but in spite of my desire it has not been possible. In this connection, I think one factor has to be realised.
Sir, there is always a tendency of having some sort of closer attachment among themselves. That is the human nature and nobody can deny it. Let us think about the troubles. When I first started my political career I in Garo Hills, the greatest obstacle which I had to face was the feeling of what we call 'Mahari' or the family. I belong to the Sangma family and I have a feeling that I belong to that family. So also a member belonging to the Chambugong family or Mahari has the feeling for and the attachment to that family. Likewise further the Momins and the Maraks have a feeling and relationship to their own families. If there is a case in a court, the whole family and the whole villages, even from others parts of the District come in support of that particular family. That is human nature. But it is you duty and my duty to fight those forces, I am giving this picture because of certain incidents which have taken place in Meghalaya and because of certain apprehensions which have been expressed by our youth. It is unfortunate that the people of Meghalaya and the Government have been blamed. It is unfortunate to find in Shillong or elsewhere that the traditional relationship which we used to have in this part of the country is being threatened because of the evacuees problem. They blame the Government because of the evacuees as if we have brought them and as if it was our choice. Is it not the duty of the leaders of the different communities and organisations in Meghalaya to see to this ? Let us not for the time being remember that I am a Khasi or that I am a Garo or a Bengali. Let us try to solve this problem.
Mr. Kyndiah had occasion to refer to the delegation which met me. Here I would request my colleagues not to aggravate the situation but to join hands together to solve the problem. I think it is natural and genuine when they told me that we have struggled for the last 20 years to get the State of our own and ours is still an Autonomous State. We are yet to get the Statehood. We have got already 2½ lakhs as against the population of only about 10 lakhs, actually 9,98,000. What fruit shall we derive if we are out numbered and with the trend of influx coming to the State, the whole population of the State will be out - numbered soon. The same felling is not only here but in Tripura and other States also. When the Chief Ministers met together, the Chief Minister of Tripura brought a full and detailed picture of the position in his State, in the districts in Sylhet bordering Tripura, what was the population of the minorities and so on. He said, that if 5½ lakhs of people come when the population of the State is only 15 lakhs and the area of Tripura is only so much square miles, where is the space to keep the people. So on that basis he was trying to persuade the Government of India to take out some of the evacuees from his State to some other places.
When the delegation met me, they told me, Sir, you are telling that according to the Government policy, these people will have to return to their own homes when the situation is created but we do not know whether the situation will at all be created. Secondly, even if the situation is created, quite a large number of them may not go back because you cannot control them. They do not stay in the camps and they are now spread over throughout the whole State. All sorts of arguments have been put before us. One example of what had happened to Tripura was given., It was a tribal State, but it is no more a tribal State All these things might have helped them to have apprehensions. But I am definite that a situation will be created because the Government of India is determined either by itself or with the help of world powers, to create a situation, in East Bengal so that these poor victims of Pakistan Army's atrocities can go back to their own sweet homes. It is the determination of the Government of India that not only those staying in the camps or elsewhere with the relative they all will have to go back. I would like to inform the House that at the initial stage, the Government of India in the Relief and Rehabilitation Ministry, thought that they are after - all our own people. Not to speak of East Bengal but even in the whole of Pakistan we have relatives and friends, though we are living in foreign countries or different countries. Naturally because of these situation, the people had to leave their homes and come across the borders and find their relatives here, not only in Meghalaya, but also in Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and other parts of the country. Therefore, the Government of India thought that those people who have relatives and friends could be allowed to live with them with proper restrictions and screening and thus lessen the burden of the Government.
Mr. Speaker :- How many minutes more shall we extend ?
Shri W.A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I think I will take only about 15 minutes.
Mr. Speaker :- So the sitting of the House will be extended upto 5.30 so that the Chief Minister can complete his speech. Is this approval of the house ?
(Voice. .. .. .. .. .. ... .. Yes. Yes.)
Shri W.A Sangma (Chief Minister) :- So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, it was in that context that the Government of India thought that it would be desirable to allow these people, who have relatives and friends, to live with them on a temporary basis, of course, with proper restrictions and screening. But when the Government was aware of the fact that there is some local resentment and it may not be desirable in some local case from the security point of view, certain instructions have been issued by the Government to restrict the movement from the camps to different places without first considering the merits of each case and unless some preliminary works are done. So, the restrictions are there.
But in this connection I will also make it clear that those evacuees who have taken shelter with their relative and friends before the subsequent instructions of the Government of India, restricting the movements of evacuees in the camps, will have to be registered and will have to be screened till the situation in Bangladesh is created for their going back. I think this entire problem will have to be borne by all leaders including myself my colleagues, the Government and other Meghalayans. Yet some tribals have not taken the earliest opportunity to extend their co-operation as fellows Meghalayans, although I think some time has been allowed to develop that attitude. It is not only the duty of this community or that community. Then the undesirable statement in the newspaper which instead of helping have spoiled the traditional harmony and friendship. But I am sure that if we are determine to extend co - operation to the Government and leaders of different communities in Meghalaya, we can approach this problem as Meghalayans and not as Bengalees, not as Khasis and not as Garos. It is with that spirit that his apprehension, this misunderstanding can be removed but if we are lacking that idea, nothing can be done. It is the responsibility of the Government it is the responsibility, of the local people the Khasis or the Meghalayans, it is the responsibility of everyone of us, the Members, the Government and the Press the citizens and the youths etc, to find a solution to this problem and we must realise that it is our responsibility to wipe out this apprehension, to remove this misunderstanding and to bring back that happy traditional communal harmony under which we have lived, we have prospered and we have developed.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would therefore, like to make an appeal. Let us all realise the suffering of those unfortunate people who have been forced out of their own hearth and homes. It is not only you, who like to see them go back to their own homeland but they also for their own interest would like to go back to their home. How to bring that solution, how to create that opportunity for these people to go back. Well this problem is receiving the attention of the Government of India. As you all know, the Government of India has tried its best to mobilise the World opinion about this particular problem and to help for bringing a solution so that these millions of people can go back to their homeland in peace, honour and integrity. As discussed by Mr. Kyndiah, I do not know how this situation can be brought about. Many people in the country and the leaders, think that by giving recognition to Bangladesh, the situation can be created for those unfortunate victims to go back in honour and integrity to their own homes. I am sure if there will be a political solution in Bangladesh acceptable to the leaders and their followers who have been thrown out in million, the solution is there for these unfortunate people. It is unfortunate, that in the beginning, the world community and the world powers have not realised the gravity of this problem. It is no doubt encouraging to see that now some of the world powers have started realising it. I do not know hw soon the solution will be found there but I am definite that it will come soon because truth always prevails. Therefore, I may quote, from my own experience that we have fought for the last 20 years we have fought for the truth, to have a place in our great India. These people also want to have a place in their own home and in Bangladesh. Therefore, that solution is bound to come. On the other hand, I would appeal that since the Government has shouldered the responsibility of looking after the evacuees to whatever extent possible, let us continue to do it without any reservation, without any hesitation and without any motive and let us continue to discharge our responsibility to these unfortunate people in a right manner. At the same time let us take the earliest opportunity of falling in line with the Government and leaders of different communities in Meghalaya to wipe out the apprehensions and to remove the misunderstanding and let us realise that until and unless everyone of us is prepared to resolve this problem of evacuee and also other problems connected with it, whether social economic or political, it will not be possible for the Government alone or the leaders alone to resolve them and also I would like the House to realise that the unfortunate victims should have the opportunity to go to their own homes and to extend every possible help for that purpose. Firstly, while they are there here in our State, in on our country on a temporary, basis you must be able to maintain full harmony, must be able to maintain discipline must be able to maintain an atmosphere which is conducive for the creation of a situation in Bangladesh. If today there is misunderstanding, there is apprehension and a number of a new problems are created because of the evacuees and if we wish to send them back to Bangladesh by creating a situation then we will be nowhere. Every one realise that for the our interest, for my interest for the interest of our unfortunate victims we should not try to have; some misunderstanding but we should try to control ourselves. we should not talk loosely but we must realise, our responsibility, I would also make an appeal to the Press that they should not publish anything which may bring about some misunderstanding which may bring about wrong information and create communal riot. People must help those people. They must get back to their country but while they are here they must sweet home, if all work for it, there will be no apprehension,. both here and there, conditions should be created throughout the whole country and we must be able to get this appreciation from everybody. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would not like to take the time of the House. I am grateful for having brought this problem for discussion and I hope that I and along with my colleagues have tried to place before the House our appeal and our responsibilities.
We have misunderstanding in the past and those will be amended and we will have the opportunity to march together tin trying to solve this great problem which has been imposed upon us. Lastly it is my interest to help in creating conditions for the people of Bangladesh who have been victims of Pakistani atrocities to go back to their home land. I am sure the Government of Meghalaya and the Meghalaya will see that the interest of Meghalaya as a whole is not in any way adversely affected.
Mr. Speaker :- The discussion is closed. The House stands adjourned till 10 a.m on Wednesday the 23rd June, 1971.
Dated Shillong ,
The 22nd June, 1971
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.