Meghalaya body demands apology from Meghalaya politician

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Shillong, Aug 29 (IANS) A body representing HIV/AIDS patients in Meghalaya on Wednesday demanded a public apology from Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) leader Hispreaching Son Shylla for his “discriminatory” remarks against them.

“We demand a public apology from Shylla for his stigmatising and discriminatory remarks against us. If he refuses to do so, we will approach our counsel and also take out a rally,” Meghalaya State Network of Positive People (MSNPP) leader Barry Kharmalki told journalists here.

Shylla, a leader of ruling National People’s Party (NPP), had allegedly said that the proposed Khasi Social Custom of Lineage (Amendment) Bill, 2018 will help “prevent indigenous people from becoming vulnerable to dreaded HIV/AIDS”.

Shylla claimed that truck drivers and migrant labourers from outside Meghalaya were the “main carriers” of HIV/AIDS, adding that the bill be one of the ways to prevent indigenous women from getting infected.

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The NPP leader also alleged that district council did not recognise transgenders.

“HIV does not discriminate, so why is he discriminating? You cannot attribute an epidemic to only one section (migrant workers/truck drivers from outside the state),” the MSNPP leader said.

“… people from all walks of life have contributed to this situation. He is hurting public sentiments. He is inciting fear and hatred. Do we assume that all truck drivers from outside have HIV?” Kharmalki asked.

He quoted statistics from Anti-Retroviral Therapy Centre of government-run Shillong Civil hospital to butress his point.

“We are not sure how the bill will help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS… he should be more sensitive. We are ready to send him books and research papers to read so that he has a better understanding,” Kharmalki added.

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