The ethnic clashes between the Khasis, Garos, and Jaintias – natives of Meghalaya – and the people of Nepali origin have, thus far, claimed two dozen lives. Seventeen Nepali speakers have lost their lives in the brutal clashes. Now the fear is that more such communal riots would take place, if not in the coming days, then in the coming years. The communal riots have spread from Lingpih to other districts of Meghalaya: Jaintia Hills, Garo Hills, and the capital of Meghalaya – Shillong. And the people of Nepali origin have become the target. This communal riot won’t subside any time soon if state actors are behind it, as it happened in 1987. Still, the majority of the victims of the 1987 riots have not yet overcome their trauma. In the riots, hundreds of people of Nepali origin disappeared. And the state government, unfortunately, has refused to admit that they perished in the riots. Most of the missing persons belonged to a floating population, who moved from one village to another in search of greener pastures for their cattle. And they possessed no documents as such to prove their identity or nationality because they were illiterate, were always on the move, and lived at the mercy of local village headmen. Unlike the 1987 riots, the recent killing of innocent people of Nepali origin captured media attention only because of the “border” dispute between the two Northeast Indian states — Assam and Meghalaya. There have been many such brutal incidents of communal violence in the past, which went unreported. And mostly, innocent children, women and elderly people were the victims. Lingpih is one of the 12 border areas over which “claims and counterclaims” have been made by both the states of Assam and Meghalaya. Meghalaya claims that Lingpih falls within its jurisdiction in the West Khasi Hills district while Assam has claimed that the area falls under the jurisdiction of Kamrup district. For generations, the people of Nepali origin in Lingpih have, however, been the dominant community. Last July, the Synjuk Ki Rangbah Shnong of Langpih Area (SKRSLA) had issued “quit notice” to the people of Nepali origin residing in Lingpih and adjoining villages. SKRSLA said in the notice (The Shillong Times, July 21, 2009): “It has decided to give 15 days time with the quit notice to the Nepali population since they would need sufficient time to pack up and leave Lingpih permanently.” In the same notice, SKRSLA president T Nonglang warned that “if they failed to comply with the demand after the 15 days time, then they would not hesitate to use force in order to remove them from the area.” Such an imminent and militant threat from the local Khasi group prompted the Assam state government to deploy police force to the area to prevent any kind of untoward incidents. In addition, this threat explicitly illustrated that the people of Nepali origin had been the target of the local tribal militant groups. Both Assam and Meghalaya state governments were well aware of potential communal violence. And there have been ample evidence that the Meghalaya state government in the past used its state paramilitary force to displace and evict people of Nepali origin, forcefully, out of the state. The Nepali settlement in Meghalaya dates back to 1824, when British India deployed Gurkhas to clear the malaria-infested Northeast India. Initially, British India wanted to set up its base in Cherapunji but, as a result of heavy rains throughout the year in the area, it chose Shillong, which later became the capital of Northeast India. The Gorkha Pathshala High School established in 1878 has been a monument of the people of Nepali origin when they actually began to settle in Meghalaya. Besides, the 1960 census also explicitly shows that the people of Nepali origin were in majority in Shillong. But they were rendered stateless because of India’s Land Ceiling Act, which came into force to protect the local ethnic communities and safeguard the rights of India’s tribal communities across the rainbow region. Unfortunately, the Modilization (Narendra Modi was the architect of the 2002 communal riots in Gujarat) of Northeast India, particularly in Meghalaya, has always been a state affair. And the Khasi Students Union has been the tool of the state political actors who have used it to unleash a terror campaign against the minority Nepali population living for centuries there. In 1987, the president of the Khasi Students Union, Bull Lyndoh, spearheaded an anti-Nepali terror campaign. Two years later, Lyndoh got the state government’s ministry of agriculture portfolio as his reward. At the outset, the 1987 communal riots broke out in the coalmine areas of Jowai in the Jaintia Hills. Politicians and student leaders, backed by the state police force, attacked Nepali settlements there. In Shillong, the Gorkha High School was burnt down, and Nepali settlements in other areas in the capital attacked. Over 35,000 people of Nepali origin were driven out of the state in less than a week. The state government even terminated the tenures of dozens of government employees of Nepali origin simply on the ground of being Nepali speakers. It is also true that for the past several decades, the “foreign origin” tag for political gains has been the leading factor in state-organized communal violence in Meghalaya. Vulnerable Nepali villages scattered across the state, have been the targets of Khasis, Garos, and Jaintias of Meghalaya. Neither the state government bothered to probe the killings or massacres of innocent people of Nepali origin in the past, nor has the federal government done enough to protect the people of Nepali origin in Northeast India. Rather, some Indian states have designed laws to curb the rights of Nepali speakers living for centuries there. Such laws as Land Ceiling Act, Schedule Tribe Reservations, Inner Line Permits for non-natives, have shaken the Nepali settlements in Northeast India. Such laws have also stoked anti-Nepali sentiments because of the typical Nepali traits of sheer hard work and skills in agriculture, rearing livestock, and other professional vocations. Now the future of these very Nepali speakers has become more acutely uncertain, especially in Meghalaya. There is no organization which can raise voice for the rights to life. It is high time, therefore, Nepal sat down with New Delhi to save the lives of these vulnerable Nepali speakers living in Meghalaya since the early 19th century. After all, they from a part of the Nepali diaspora.