GUWAHATI: Meghalaya MLA, Samuel Sangma, has learnt, albeit the hard way, what development means.
His daughter, Aprya Marak, met with what could have been a nightmare. She and her friend escaped unscathed after the UDP MLA’s SUV, which they were travelling in, fell off a wooden bridge in the state’s South Garo Hills.
For years the bridge lay in disrepair, thereby endangering lives and inconveniencing people. Replacing it with a concrete one has been a long-standing demand of locals. Ahead of Assembly elections two years ago, when a local, Freedom Marak, asked Sangma some uncomfortable questions about under-development in the constituency, he was allegedly beaten up by the lawmaker.
According to the FIR lodged with Baghmara police station then, Freedom had sought answers from Sangma about the slow pace of development works. This enraged the MLA and he allegedly beat up the local leaving him with a swollen face and blackened eyes. Sangma had allegedly also beaten up another local but he chose not to file a complaint.
After having witnessed the assault on Freedom, the locals realized they do not have the freedom to question the MLA.
Officials in the district admitted the bridge has worn out. The driver of the MLA’s SUV had lost control while crossing the bridge and it fell off. After a few rounds of somersault on the muddy surface downhill, the car had come to a standstill. The occupants escaped unhurt.
Given what the MLA had gone through, the locals are now optimistic about a concrete bridge. Sangma said the wooden bridge lay on a road connected to National Highway 62 and it was maintained by National Highway authorities.
“I have already submitted a proposal to the government to replace the wooden bridge with a concrete one. I will now exert pressure to ensure that the work is done early,” he said.