Tura(Meghalaya), Sep 3: The move of the state government, which proposed the setting up of village and municipal Councils in the state has not gone down well with the various stakeholders. The All Garo Hills Joint Action Committee (AGHJAC) comprising many CSOs from the region met the CEM of GHADC, Benedic Marak and deputy CEM, Nikamn Marak, to express their opinion on the decision and make suggestions to ensure the power of the Nokma would not be tampered with.
The delegation comprised of leaders from the GSU, FAF, GSMC, GGU, NTDF along with social activists submitted a memo to GHADC leaders on the matter today, Sep 3.
“We are concerned over the recent proposal by the Union Cabinet for the amendment of the Sixth Schedule where executive members of GHADC and others proposed to establish Village Council in each village that falls under the jurisdiction of GHADC,” said advisor to the AGHJAC, Roger Benny Sangma
The delegation said that village councils should not be formed where the Garo traditional institution of Nokmaship is affected in any manner.
“This can lead to the extinction of our culture and heritage. We urge both the Central and the state Government to respect the Rights of the indigenous people, something that even the United Nations has agreed with and adopted a resolution in 2007,” added convenor, Balkarin Marak.
They further urged that the rights of the Nokma across her Aking should not be affected due to the formation of Village Council (VC) or Village Development Committee (VDC). They should also not have any power over the power bestowed by the sixth schedule for the A’king Nokmas.
“No VDC or VC shall, without the consent and permission of the Nokma acquire any portion of land that falls under the jurisdiction. The A’king Nokma shall have veto power and any developmental scheme should be approved under their warrant and seal. If they disagree then the VC or VDC shall not implement or impose the same,” felt the delegation.
The AGHJAC further felt the need for the GHADC to adopt a new nomenclature on the lines of the Bodoland Territorial Council and rename the GHADC as Garoland Territorial Council (GTC).
During the meeting Benedic assured the delegation that the power of the Nokma would remain the same and there would be no tampering. Further in municipal areas under the 6th schedule would also be relooked and amended accordingly. A meeting on the matter will also take place with the chief minister and various stakeholders in Shillong on Sep 10 on the same issue.
The AGHJAC, in the interim, requested the CEM to halt the recommendation so that citizens can have sufficient time to discuss and express their concern and consensus can be attained.