Meghalya tribal chiefs seek constitutional recognition

January 11th, 2008 - 7:10 pm ICT by admin  

By Sanjay Kumar
New Delhi, Jan 11 (ANI): The representatives of the three major tribal groups of Meghalya have sought constitutional recognition to the tribal chiefs and their functions from the Central Government.
Twenty representatives from the three predominant tribal groups - Khasi, Jaintia and Garos, met Mani Shankar Aiyar, the Union Minister of Development of the North Eastern Region (DONER) and the Panchayatai Raj, here today.
This is first time that the tribal leaders from the State were invited by the Centre to present their case.
In a meeting that lasted almost half-an-hour, the tribal leaders failed to get any assurance from the Union Minister.
“So far as the requirement of the Constitutional amendment is concerned they first need to build consensus within Meghalya, only then we can think of question of creating a consensus to get two-third majority required to pass a Constitutional Amendment,” said Aiyar after the meeting.
The Panchayati Raj Act that was passed in 1991 talks of the preservation of the “traditional systems of self-government, akin to Panchyati Raj” in the three states of the North East — Nagaland, Meghalya and Mizoram.
The Act says: “in these three states the traditional systems will be left undisturbed”.
“People want empowerment through this system (tribal political institutions)…which has power to govern the executive, judiciary and legislature,” said John F Kharshling, General Secretary of the Grassroots Democracy Advisory Council.
He demanded that the “roles, functions and responsibilities of the indigenous tribal chiefs be defined in the Constitution” in the same way as the role of a village “Sarpanch” (Village head) has been defined in the Panchayati Raj system.
The tribal representatives were unanimous in their view that for State’s economic development, tribal chiefs and “the agreement signed between Khasi states and the Government of India” should be included in the Constitution.
All the three ethnic tribal groups — Khasis, Jaintias and Garos — have their own traditional political institutions that have existed for hundreds of years.
These political institutions were fairly well developed and functioned at various tiers, such as the village-level, the clan-level and the state-level. (ANI)

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