Skip to content Skip to navigation

Shillong’s Sweeper’s Lane – The Other Side

There are opinions among the tribesmen of Meghalaya that the sweeper lane issue in Shillong town has gone colder since May 31 when mayhem broke over this place near Iewduh, one of the largest traditional markets in the region. That such opinions being held by the native citizenries in a society where matriliny has hit such a low that the fairer sexes are facing insecurities in their own hearth and homes, is in itself, morbid. An incident over an alleged eve-teasing went out of proportion when the local tribesmen clashed with the residents of Sweeper’s Lane, inviting global attention to the issue. The stalemate that exists in this lane dates back to time immemorial and history is replete with records that successive state governments of Meghalaya have liked to keep the matter in abeyance than settling for an all-time solution. The vexed issue with this lane has fulfilled several political mileages by vested interests in the past.

However, behind the din over this lane – which is put to armed security sans flow of traffic – and as it continues to emerge, like a volcano, occasionally, one cannot escape from the display of tribal hatred. The hatred towards non-tribal by the indigenous tribesmen here is a “born thing” and that was on full display when this lane witnessed one of the most troubling times in its history, so far. This ingrained hatred was further fuelled by vested politicians. That, emotions were fuelled to go out of gear can be gauged when a false news spread in the social media about a local youth dying in the incident, on the first day. The scene was such that had the protestors got into their way, they would have cleaned up this lane of its inhabitants, which the state government could not do for long many years, now. 

It is no wonder, how can a lane be uprooted or even shifted out of its location. This lane is comparatively better than the railway slums that exists in neighboring Guwahati or those that can be seen in other cities in the country. The crux of the matter here are not the residents, the unhygienic conditions, the daily altercations and rest of it, that is being bragged around often, rather, the vicinity of this neighborhood to the nearby Iewduh – Shillong’s tradition market hub. The locals cannot resist the fact that this land is not in their hand, which has the potentiality of becoming another extension of the famous Bara Bazar (Iewduh). Commerce is the real reason behind the usual demand for relocation of this lane from the area to another place. All the opinions about this place actually falls flat when one sees the real intent behind this daily clamour. 

One major complaint regarding this lane is the altercation between the locals and the residents of this lane. These residents are often accused of engaging in altercations without caring two hoots to see the other side of the coin. The racist remarks by local tribesmen on any non-tribal here in the city have never been contended as if it is their birth right to call others by names. It is alluring to note that the same tribesmen who passes racist remarks on non-tribals here and ends up at the receiving end in mainland India cries “human rights violations”, “atrocities towards northeasterners” and what have they, sheepishly. Whether they can see the real side or prefers not to see, is not known, but who gave them this right to aspire better treatment elsewhere when they are treating mainlanders in a despising manner in this region needs further light. Who is going to tell them that their welfare in mainland squarely depends upon the mainlanders’ welfare in this part of the country? 

However, there are several opinions in Meghalaya, including the local tribesmen – who can see the real side of the matter – that no civilized societies on earth can sustain without sweepers. These are the very people who are keeping our towns and neighbourhoods clean and are also involved in manual scavenging works – something which is not seen being done by the other communities here. Certainly, a community which has been serving this town, for generations together, since the time of the British Raj, does not deserve such a treatment. This is utterly thanklessness. 

Author info

Rajiv Roy's picture


Add new comment


Republish this content

Stock taking visit to tense Maibong

26 Jan 2018 - 5:18pm | AT News

HAFLONG: Senior ministers Porimal Suklavaidya and Keshab Mahanta are on a visit to Haflong on Friday a day after the Maibong incident where two people were killed in police firing triggering a seismic wave of protest across the state.

After hoisting the tri colour, both the ministers have reached the hills district headquarters to take stock of the situation which turns from bad to worse.

People in the tense district stayed away from participating in the Republic Day celebrations in protest against the Maibong firing and many organizations have enforced 48 hour bandh from Friday morning.

Curfew in Maibong is still in place where the local residents kept themselves confined to their homes. Security forces are patrolling on the streets to

avert the rerun of a fresh orgy of violence.

Two persons died and eight others sustained injury when police men sprang upon a huge crowd of protesters who blocked a Guwahati bound passenger train in Maibong station registering protest against the statement of a RSS person regarding the annexation of the hills district in the proposed greater Nagalim.

Train derails near Guwahati, 3 dead, 60 injured

3 Feb 2012 - 6:12pm | editor

Three persons dead and at least 60 passengers were injured when the engine and five compartments of a train jumped off the rails on its track in the outskirt of the city on Friday

The Bongaigaon-Guwahati Chilarai Passenger train rammed into a vehicle and stuck on the track at Gossainghati between Azara and Mirza railway stations leaving about 50 injured around 9.30 a.m where the injured passengers were rushed by the local people to the Mirza Public Health Centre from where the critically injured were referred to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital, Railway officials along with rescue vans have rushed to the spot.

Assam registers first ever cyber crime case

13 May 2008 - 1:40am | editor
For the first time Assam has registered a cyber crime case on Monday. The case has been registered with CID of Assam police acting on complaint that a huge Rs 3, 30,000 has been duped in internet banking. A Special investigation team is set to deal with the case bearing No 18/08. The victim has approached the special investigation team alleging that he received an e-mail from a company based in the United States of America which offered him a job of a comfortable amount. The company instructed him to transfer some amounts from one bank to another adding that the amount would be deposited by the agents of the company.. He was inform, that he would receive 10 per cent of the total transacted amount. Accordingly, he opened an account with the HDFC bank with an amount of Rs 3 lakh and 30 thousands in cash. Later, he transferred the amount to ICICI bank and the cheating came to light as soon as he received a phone call from HDFC Bank that his amount is wrongly deposited.