Altogether nine tribal families, all residents of a remote village in West Khasi Hills district in Meghalaya, have secluded themselves from the society, quit jobs, withdrawn children from schools and also emptied their bank accounts, after a self-styled ‘prophet’ convinced them that “doomsday” was near and there was no point pursuing worldly pleasure.
Confirming this West Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner S Kharlyngdoh said he was aware of the incident but was unable to take any action “because there was nothing illegal or criminal about it.”
“We are aware of the incident. But where is the question of taking any action by the government? Is it a crime under any provision of the law? How can we interfere? It is a religious matter and would hurt religious sentiments,” deputy commissioner Kharlyngdoh told The Indian Express over the telephone from Nongstoin, the district headquarter on Thursday.
According to reports carried by a section of the local media in Shillong, the nine families included those of two government employees and three school teachers, all of whom had resigned from their government jobs and are reportedly waiting for the world to come to an end any time. Residents of Nongthhliew village under Mairang block, they have been waiting for about two years now, reports said.
The families have come under influence of an un-named preacher who arrived in their village about two years ago and told the people that there was no point holding on to wealth, jobs and cash because the world was coming to an end at any moment. While most villagers did not bother to believe, these nine families thought the ‘prophet’ was right, following which they have withdrawn from the society and have been living a secluded life, reports said.
Reports quoting village headman Spotting Mawlong said the nine families, all belonging to a particular Christian denomination, had also withdrawn their children from school, withdrew all the money they had in banks, and have also refused to accept foodgrains provided by the government under the public distribution system. They have also thrown away their electronic voter identity cards (EPIC) and other documents.
The families have apparently also stopped going to Church and have taken to ‘internal prayers’ in their respective homes. “Efforts by some village elders and church officials to bring them out of their strange belief have not yielded any result,” the headman was quoted as having said.”They only told us that they trust in the Holy Spirit after we tried to intervene,” the headman reportedly said.