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Muslims in Shillong
By M. H. Rahman

Shillong is the capital of Meghalaya located at an altitude of 1496 meters above the sea level. It was made capital of Assam in 1874 and remained so till January 1974. According to the Khasi legend, it derives its name from the word, ‘Shulong’, which means the creator, who was once upon a time born to a Khasi peasant girl.
As per 1991 census, the population of Shillong was 446732. In 1998 it is estimated to be 532379. It is consisted of the people belonging to the Khasi, the Jaintia, the Bhoi, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Garo, the Budhist, the Naga, the Manipuri, the Mizo etc. communities. However the town is predominately inhabited by the people of the Khasi community.

The Muslim population of the town comprises of the Khasi, Assamese, Bengali, Hindi and Nepali speaking people. Their settlement was probably took place in the state capital in the 17th century. They have been living in peace and harmony with the majority community.

There are six mosques in the heart of Shillong. They are located at police Bazar, Laban, Laitumkhra, Garikhana, Bara Pathar and Jhalupara. There are also two graveyards located at lLaban and Mawprem, and two Idgah fields at Laitumkhra and Laban. There is only one Madrasa at Garikhana.

Sheikh Muhammad Amjad Ali (1868-1926) was the first person to compose poems in the Khasi language. His first poetic work called ‘Ka Myntoi’ (The Profit) was published from Calcutta in 1888. He entered government service as a clerk and retired as the Assistant Inspector General of Prisons in 1920 and then shot to fame as a lawyer and a social worker in the state capital. He was elected to the legislative council of Assam as its member in 1923.

The personalities like late Syed Muhammad Sadullah, the first premier of Assam, Sir Akbar Hydari, the first governor of Assam and late Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad who became the president of India once lived in Shillong and immensely contributed to its growth and development.
As a whole the Muslim population of Meghalaya is estimated to be 80879 in 1998. Over one-fourth of this population lives in Shillong. They have been struggling hard for their socio-economic development and preservation of their religious and cultural identity. There is an urgent need for establishment of the state Minority Development and Finance Corporation, state Minority Commission and the state waqf Board in the state. The Hindu population of the state is estimated t be 267682.

Because of its historical background, scenic beauty and geographical location, Shillong is called Scotland of the East. However life in the capital town is no longer peaceful. The rise of extortion, robbery, ransom, killing and other vices has been a threat to the security of life and property of the people living in the state capital. Frequent bandh called by different organisations has been severely affecting developmental activities in the state.

The Khasi Students’ Unionn and some other organizations have been demanding prevention of infiltration of foreigners/outsiders into the state, demarcation of border of the state, job reservation ad per the population ratio of the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos, introduction of Inner Line Permit and Work Permit system for migrant labours. Moreover, various insurgent groups have been creating law and order problems from time to time in the state especially in the state capital. All the issues are of complex nature. The state government needs sufficient time to resolve them. However, the common people are longing for peace, security and development. The end.

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