Tag Archives: meghalaya

Meghalaya, India: Marriage is Not a Private Affair

Patriarchal and Hindu Nepali migrant coalminers marry matriarchal and Christian Khasi indigenous women in India’s Meghalaya state. Read on to find out what happens

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

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Kul Bahadur Magar, his wife Deng and their children.

Marriages, history shows us, are often tactical arrangements between rulers to expand empires, strengthen political alliances, establish peace between warring nations, avoid wars or create harmony in a conflict-ridden society. The Romans did it, the Mughals followed suit, and Nepal’s rulers were no different, in the seventh century marrying off Princess Bhrikuti to powerful emperor Songtsan Gampo of Tibet. Similarly, in the eighth century, King Jayadev II of Nepal brought home Rajyamati, daughter of Harshavardan, the king of Kamrup, Assam.

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Kulbahadur
In contrast, when Kul Bahadur Magar, a Nepali coalmine worker in an area of Meghalaya that borders Kamrup, married Deng, a local ethnic Khasi woman, he did not have lofty goals of alliance building or peace-making. “Who thinks like that?” asked 45-year-old Magar. “I liked her, she liked me. We were both young and one day we married.” That was 13 years ago. Since then, the couple has been living peacefully in a shack with their four children, near the coalmine where Magar works. But their peace has now been shattered. The simmering mistrust between Nepali-speakers and the local Khasi community erupted into full-scale conflict during the course of May. Several Gorkhas (Nepali-speaking Indians) and migrants from Nepal were killed, the tragedies highlighting the constant vulnerability of both categories of Nepali-speaking residents of the Northeast. (Khasi Nepali Ethnic Conflict in Meghalaya, India)

Two years ago an ethnic conflict arose in a small town called Barsora in East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, a north-eastern Indian state. The Khasis who are majority in the state that has other indigenous communities like Garos and Jaintias, started evicting Nepali migrant labourers who toiled in the coal mines there. A group of leading Nepali migrants from Ladrampai, the commercial hub of neighbouring Jaintai Hills district, went there to hold talks with the locals. Locals had four complaints against migrants: 1. You steal our jobs. 2. You consume alcohol and crate nuisance at public places. 3. You are involved in terrorist activities. 4. You marry our women and help destroy our culture. Continue reading Meghalaya, India: Marriage is Not a Private Affair

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Meghalaya Diary: the Gorkhas, Migrant Nepalis and India

The Nepali-speaking Indians are fighting for their identity in India under the banner of the Gorkha which puts them at odds with Nepali migrants in northeast India

Shyam Prasad Pokharel, a migrant Nepali coal mine labourer in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya
Shyam Prasad Pokharel, a migrant Nepali coal mine labourer in Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

JUN 05- During the course of my week-long stay in Shillong (and other parts of Meghalaya and Assam) I interacted with many Gorkhas and Nepalis both in their homes and offices. Some of them came to see me at the guest house in Jhalupara where I was staying. Jhalupara neighbourhood resembles most Nepali towns where Narayan Gopal blares at the music kiosk and youths playing Counter Strike video game scream Nepali expletives. A person I was meeting at the guest house called me beforehand to ask an unexpected question: “Do you think you are being followed by the Meghalayan intelligence?” Continue reading Meghalaya Diary: the Gorkhas, Migrant Nepalis and India

Khasi Nepali Ethnic Conflict in Meghalaya, India

Existing mistrust between the Nepali-speaking population and the Khasis has widened after the recent ethnic clashes

By Dinesh Wagle
Wagle Street Journal

Shaym Prasad Pokharel, a coal mine labourer from Nepal during an interview near a mine in Ladrampai, Meghalaya
Shaym Prasad Pokharel, a coal mine labourer from Nepal during an interview near a mine in Ladrampai, Meghalaya

MEGHALAYA, INDIA- “Ethnicity-based enmity,” said a Nepali-speaking Assamese coal mine labourer in Meghalaya, “is the most frightening and unpredictable thing I have ever experienced.” “The man you were friend with in the morning”, Bhumi Raj Limbu continued, “becomes your killer in the evening.”

This is what is happening in Meghalaya today. Existing mistrusts and contempt between Nepalis and Khasis have widened as the latter recently killed and assaulted several Nepali migrant workers and Gorkhas (Nepali-speaking Indians).

At the heart of this conflict lies a beautiful village called Lampi (or Langpih), claimed by both Assam and Meghalaya. Both states are strongly backed by villagers sharply divided along ethnic lines. The Gorkhas want the present Assamese authority in the village unchallenged, while the Khasis feel the area belongs to Meghalaya. Continue reading Khasi Nepali Ethnic Conflict in Meghalaya, India