Meghalaya minor tribes fear exclusion from Sixth Schedule

We have virtually been made non-indigenous and unwanted, they say

Published - September 28, 2019 10:18 pm IST - Guwahati

A dance by the Hajong, one of the minority tribes in Meghalaya. File photo.

A dance by the Hajong, one of the minority tribes in Meghalaya. File photo.

Meghalaya’s bid to exclude “unrepresented tribes” from the provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution has left minor tribes in the hill State edgy.

Meghalaya is divided into autonomous councils in the names of the three major matrilineal communities — Garo, Khasi and Jaintia. The minority tribes include the Hajong, Koch, Rabha, Boro and Mann.

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

On September 26, a sub-committee constituted by the State government had decided to recommend to the Standing Committee of Parliament the removal of the word “unrepresented tribes” from the amended Sixth Schedule. Currently, members of such tribes are nominated to the autonomous district councils.

A joint delegation of organisations representing five “unrepresented tribes” had met Home Minister James A. Sangma to voice their concerns about the amendment.

These groups were the Meghalaya Hajong Welfare Association (MHWA), Meghalaya Koch Association, Meghalaya Rabha Jatio Sewa Sangha, All Bodo Students’ Union, Bodo Sahitya Sabha, All Meghalaya Mann Welfare Society and All Rabha Students’ Union. Leaders of these organisation said the outcome of the meeting was not to their expectations. “It is sad the minority tribes have run into tribal majoritarianism. We have virtually been made non-indigenous and unwanted in our own homeland,” an MHWA spokesperson said.

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