Tura (Meghalaya),Aug 30: Various NGO, under the banner of the All Garo Hills Joint Action Committee (AGHJAC) met the CM, Conrad Sangma seeking a review of the suggested proposal by the Union cabinet aimed at amending existing laws to safeguard indigenous and tribal people residing within the country.
The delegation of AGHJAC was led by the advisor to the AGHJAC, Roger Benny A. Sangma and Balkarin Ch Marak.
“The meeting was fruitful and positive, with the CM assuring us that the existing sixth schedule will not be diluted,” said one of the members, Walseng Sangma.
During the meeting, Roger Benny highlighted the definition of indigenous people as inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment, having unique social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that differ from those of the dominant societies in which we lives.
“Majority of India is governed by the general category whereas those that are left out are in minority and are commonly known as lower classes or tribal. They are very few in number and are living in a few states such as Meghalaya, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram. The 6th Schedule was inserted to recognize the identities, the way of life, rights of indigenous people that we had over our traditional lands, territories and natural resources, that needed to be protected and preserved,” felt the AGHJAC.
The NGO stated that the rights were also recognized by the international community and the framers of the Constitution acknowledged the need of an autonomous body to frame and protect the interest of indigenous tribes living within the state of Meghalaya.
Further Balkarin said that the proposal suggested by the Union cabinet nominating 6 members (with 2 women) and four from the unrepresented tribes has triggered political polarization within the tribals residing in Garo Hills.
“It is a known fact that all other tribes have been exercising their franchise and contesting freely in GDC election and general election. We have witnessed numerous candidates of an ‘unrepresented tribes’ coming out in flying colours in the election. So we feel that the suggestion to modify paragraph 2 sub-clause (1) of the Six Schedule made by the Union cabinet for nominating four unrepresented tribes is unreasonable and politically motivated to raise the feeling of polarization within tribals in Garo Hills,” felt the NGOs.
The NGOs stated that their meeting with the CM was fruitful with Conrad promising to take up the matter with the Union Cabinet.