The protest at Dadenggre on Monday. Picture by Saidul Khan
Tura, Oct. 5: A group of protesters today interrupted Tura Lok Sabha MP Purno Agitok Sangma at an election rally in Dadenggre, West Garo Hills, where he was campaigning for the upcoming Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) polls.
The protesters, led by the Garo Students’ Union’s (GSU) Rupa Marak, included members of other civil organisations. They unfurled a stinging placard and alleged that Sangma had made several promises in the past that remain unfulfilled.
The National People’s Party (NPP) leader arrived at Dadenggre public playground for today’s rally around 11.30am, accompanied by his legislator son James K. Sangma and NPP candidate for Jengjal GHADC constituency, Grahambel A. Sangma.
Around 300 protesters were present in the crowd of about 1,000 people.
Marak told The Telegraph: “We staged the protest against him because he broke the trust of the people of the Dadenggre area. We wanted to remind him that the people will not remain silent to all his (false) promises anymore.”
The GSU leader said in 2007 while inaugurating the Dadenggre Puri Higher Secondary School, Sangma had told the gathering that he would establish a college in the area. Marak also alleged that the former Lok Sabha Speaker had promised to build a “folding bridge” in Dadenggre after a major bridge collapsed in floods last year.
Marak alleged that Sangma had then said: “The folding bridge will be installed very soon at Dadenggre. It is being shipped for Dadenggre via Agia in Assam.” However, it has still not been built.
The GSU leader said Sangma spoke briefly to the protesters and said: “You should tell this to Mukul Sangma, not me.”
Marak said the crowd then confronted Sangma about his remarks and some of them shouted: “The promises were made by you and not Mukul Sangma.”
Sangma later told The Telegraph, “The protest was engineered by candidates of a rival political party. I have never made any false promises. I have done so much during my tenure as chief minister of Meghalaya. Rongram-Chibinang road via Dadenggre was sanctioned in West Garo Hills. I have done enough for the area, when people had not demanded anything. I have done things even without any memorandum from the people.”
Asked about the folding bridge, Sangma said: “I have never heard of anything like a folding bridge. It is a baseless claim by the protesters.”
Protesting is “a democratic right of the people”, Sangma said. Asked if he suspected the Congress to be behind the protest, Sangma said: “It is natural.”