Matrilineal Meghalaya to give land rights to men

Among the Khasis, parental property has traditionally gone to the youngest daughter

Updated - October 26, 2021 11:26 pm IST

Published - October 26, 2021 04:36 pm IST - GUWAHATI

A file photo of Khasi women from West Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya.

A file photo of Khasi women from West Khasi Hill district of Meghalaya.

Matrilineal Meghalaya is set to break the tradition of parents bequeathing the lion’s share of parental property to the khatduh , which means the youngest daughter in the Khasi language.

The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) is scheduled to introduce the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Khasi Inheritance of Property Bill, 2021, for equal distribution of parental property among siblings, both male and female. It would be tabled during the autumn session of the Council on November 8.

Titosstarwell Chyne, Chief Executive Member of the KHADC, said the bill will enable equitable distribution of property among the heirs irrespective of gender.

“We do not have any law for the equitable distribution of the family property in case the siblings are all male or where there are no children. Problems have cropped up in the absence of such a law,” he said.

Mr. Chyne cited some cases where the clans have staked claim to properties in the absence of a genuine heir. There have also been cases where elder siblings have dragged their parents and the youngest sister to court for claiming their share, he said.

Giving the entire share of property to the youngest daughter is not justified if there are female siblings taking care of their parents, Mr. Chyne said. Ensuring a share of the parental property would also help Khasi males apply for bank loans, he said.

“Apart from ensuring each sibling is not deprived of her or his share, the bill has a provision for denying share of property to any ward who marries a non-tribal and accepts the culture and tradition of his or her spouse,” Mr. Chyne said.

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Assault on tradition

A similar bill drafted by the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women (APSCW) and the Arunachal State Commission for Protection of Child Rights seeking equal inheritance rights for women in the State has been put in cold storage following opposition from various organisations who viewed it as an “assault on tradition”.

APSCW Chairperson Radhilu Chai Techi said the proposed bill took many years of research to be drafted and was finalised after several awareness camps, discussions with community-based organisations and students’ unions.

But these NGOs opposed the draft after it was submitted to Chief Minister Pema Khandu two months ago. Some organisations called it “anti-tribal” and a bid to pave the way for non-Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes to settle down in the State permanently.

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