SHILLONG | Oct 7, 2019:

Organization belonging to five minor tribes of Meghalaya have asked Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma to intervene in the move to exclude them from the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The five minor tribe including Bodo-Kachari, Hajong, Koch, Mann and Rabha are clubbed as “unrepresented tribes” for nomination in Meghalaya’s autonomous tribal councils. These councils are in the names of Garo, Jaintia and Khasi, the State’s three major matrilineal communities.

Parts or the whole of four Northeastern States – Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura – fall under the Sixth Schedule, which makes special provisions for “tribal areas”.

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On September 26, a sub-committee on the amendment of the Sixth Schedule constituted by the State government decided to recommend to the Standing Committee of the Parliament the removal of the word “unrepresented tribes” from the amended special provision.

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“The move will defeat the spirit of the golden line of democracy that the government is by the people, for the people and of the people. The Constitution of India says that the Sixth Schedule is specially meant for the welfare and advancement of the Scheduled Tribes, but the proposed amendment will deprive some of the STs of their constitutional rights in the district councils,” the Meghalaya Hajong Welfare Association (MHWA) said in its appeal to Mr. Sangma.

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The association said it was also speaking on behalf of organisations of the other communities such as Meghalaya Koch Association, Meghalaya Rabha Jatio Sewa Sangha, All Bodo Students Union, Bodo Sahitya Sabha, All Meghalaya Mann Welfare Society, Hajong Students’ Union and All Rabha Students Union of Meghalaya.

The MHWA asked former Chief Minister and Congress leader Mukul Sangma to clarify if the Opposition too was in favour of removing “unrepresented tribes” from the draft amendment of the Sixth Schedule.

“The minor tribes are indigenous to Meghalaya and have been living in the State from much before its creation in 1972. The State government’s move will deprive us of the opportunity to be represented in the autonomous district councils as it will not be possible for us to get elected on the basis of adult suffrage,” a spokesperson of MHWA said.


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