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A blight on its beauty

Philip Marwein revisits the scenic Nongdisong village a year after it became infamous following a tragedy

Obscured and hidden from the public eye, Nongdisong village, located 15 km west of Nongstoin town, remained unknown for the last 16 years. It suddenly shot to fame on October 9, 2020, for wrong reasons. It was on this day last year that the former headman (sordar) of this village was buried alive by suspected persons alleged to be related to the victim.
It may be recalled that the Nongstoin Sadar police arrested 28 suspected persons soon after the crime was committed. After a brief police custody, the suspects were sent to 90-day judicial custody. All the arrested persons are already on bail waiting for the judicial trial to begin. In this connection, the SP of West Khasi Hills said the charge sheet against the arrested persons will be submitted to the court on July 19.
Coming back to Nongdisong, this humble village is comparatively small in area having only 74 households with a population of 600 (320 females and 280 males). There are 42 poor families,15 middle income households and 17 well-off families. The present daily wage here is Rs 300 for men and Rs 200 for women.
According to the village headman and secretary, an average household in the village can somehow survive with an annual income of Rs 1.30 lakh. There are 110 students, eight teachers, 12 matriculates and four graduates in the village.
The majority of the inhabitants here are farmers. The main crops are rice, maize, broom sticks, ginger, yam, chillies, vegetables, oranges and other fruits. Some villagers also take up menial jobs.
The village is connected with black-topped PMGSY road. There is electricity and water supply. The village has a playground, two lower primary schools, a public washing pond and an anganwadi centre. There are seven light vehicles and three heavy public carriers for the villagers to use.
The environment of the village is beautiful. It is surrounded by green hills, especially by locally famous Domkynjang, Domtihrit and Domlapathaw and a number of private bushes and forests adorning the adjoining plateau from where two locally beautiful rivers Pordidoh and Weitung flow. These rivers abound in indigenous local shrimps and varieties of local ornamental species of aquatic lives.
However, vast tracks of bushes and forests have now been cleared for timber or for charcoal burning. The other evil practice is that the hills and dales are indiscriminately set on fire during dry season destroying the little flora and fauna. Even precious herbal medicines are mercilessly destroyed by fire.
The village is blessed with a big river named Rwiang that was once a source of varieties of fish, but in the last 15 years, this crystal clear river has been highly polluted by the toxic wastes emitted or discharged from a steel and alloys factory set up on its bank. Today, many varieties of indigenous fish have become extinct and three villages near the factory are polluted by smoke emitted from this factory.
In this changing time, burying a person alive for alleged witchcraft is surprising. One wonders what motives the culprits might have had when they took the drastic step to end a life.

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