Shillong, June 1: Opposition Voice of the People Party (VPP) chief Ardent Miller Basaiawmoit on Thursday called off his indefinite hunger protest after completing 221 hours of fasting following the state government’s decision to constitute the expert committee for reviewing the 1972 job reservation policy.
Basaiawmoit broke his 10 days of rigorous fasting by receiving food from his wife and prayer in front of a crowd of supporters at the protest venue.
This was after the state government had officially communicated to the VPP chief about its decision to issue a notification for constituting the expert committee as per recommendation of the Ampareen Lyngdoh-led committee of all political parties, which met on Wednesday.
Announcing the party’s decision to call off the protest, Basaiawmoit said, “Since the government had sent a letter to me, which is a notification that the government will constitute an expert committee, we feel that we have achieved what we asked for. Therefore, I feel that it is right on my part to call off this indefinite hunger strike.”
“I have completed 221 hours (of fasting) and I have a strong faith and I trust completely in God that whatever I do it is not for my personal benefit, it is for the benefit of the general people and the state as a whole, which I feel that God listened and he sees that and give me the strength to sustain,” he added.
Basaiawmoit also asked the state government to put on hold all job recruitment processes till the job reservation policy is reviewed by the expert committee.
“The government has already announced (its decision to put on hold all recruitment processes) and we want the government to continue with it during the pending review of the job reservation policy,” he said.
When asked, the VPP chief also maintained that his party will not allow the state government to delay the matter by ensuring that the expert committee is time bound to complete its task to review the reservation policy.
“We will not allow this committee to go on year after year. It has to have a time bound,” he said while adding that the fight on the issue will continue and it doesn’t mean by calling off the agitation, the VPP will close the chapter to discuss the issue.
“We will keep on discussing and we will see at the right time what we will do (if there is any delay by the state government to review the job reservation policy),” he further added.
Reiterating that the VPP’s protest is not against any particular community, Basaiawmoit said, “We only want to bring a ‘just and fair’ policy.”
Also stating that the VPP is a state party, he said, “Our intention is not to concentrate only in the Khasi region but we will also be going to Garo Hills explaining to our Garo brothers that we want to see overall development in the state not only in a particular region.”
According to him, some politicians may like to instigate but as of now there is no such communal feeling arising out of the issue.
On the demand of the headmen from Jaintia Hills for 20% job reservation for the Pnar people, Basaiawmoit however said, “Don’t talk about 2-3 persons’ remarks. You see the comments of many headmen of that area then you will see and these are the kinds of politics that we don’t want to involve, we don’t want to practice.”
Asked if the decision to put on hold the recruitment process will not affect the unemployed youths of the state, the VPP leader however said, “Which is why it depends on the government how to speed up the process of reviewing this present job reservation policy and the government can apply its wisdom on how to deal with those unemployed youths.”
Meanwhile, VPP leaders were also seen cleaning the protest venue at the parking lot adjacent to the Additional Secretariat.