SHILLONG, March 03: Followers of the traditional faiths such as those following the Niam Tre and Niam Khasi should be accorded minority status as opined by the Coordination Committee of Seng Khasi and Sein Raij which filed a petition with the Governor in this regard on Friday.
In the memorandum submitted to the Governor, the Coordination Committee pointed out that under the Constitution of India in Article 29 (1) and 29 (2) any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same and no citizen shall be denied admission into any educational maintained by the state or receiving aid out of state funds on grounds only of religion, race, caste, language or any of them.
In the memorandum the representatives of the indigenous faith also stated that under the mandate of the Article 30 (1) of the Constitution of India, minorities are based on religion or language whereby the expression “minorities” based on religion, attracts three elements, namely-the existence of a minority, it being based on a religion and the basis being religion in the sense in which the word used in Article 30 (1).
“The status of religious minorities in Meghalaya is still being considered and taken on a nation-wise basis and not state-wise basis,” the representatives of the Niam Khasi and Niam Tre pointed out while opining that “severe inequality” has been created.
The memorandum also states that while those Khasis and Jaintias who have converted to Christianity are recognized as Schedule Tribes as well as Minorities, those professing the indigenous faith are recognized only as Schedule Tribes in spite of them being the real minority in the State.
They also informed that the Coordination Committee had approached both the State and Central Government on the matter since 2009 but no favourable action has been taken in this regard from any quarter.