SHILLONG, May 18: The Meghalaya Indigenous Tribal Constitutional Rights Movement (MITCRM) was formed during a meeting on Thursday attended by leaders of at least 15 NGOs from Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills region of the state who al expressed their stiff opposition to the proposed amendment of the Sixth Schedule which seeks to replace the existing traditional village dorbar with village councils.
The meeting also resolved to write to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh besides all the MPs of the North East region for their necessary intervention into the matter.
The opposition came after reports indicated the Centre’s move to table the proposed amendments to the Sixth Schedule in the upcoming session of Parliament.
In this regard, North East Students’ Organization (NESO) chairman, Samuel B Jyrwa said that the decision to form the MITCRM has been made and that it will unanimously oppose certain provisions in the proposed amendments to the Sixth Schedule.
According to him, the amendments proposed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which are detrimental to the interest of the tribal people of Meghalaya, was done without any consultation with the stakeholders.
“If such amendment is needed, we feel that it should have come from us and not from the MHA. The Centre should take into consideration the voice of the people in view that the Sixth Schedule is for us,” Jyrwa said.
The NESO leader said the reservations expressed was against the establishment of village councils/municipal councils and that the elections to the autonomous district councils (ADCs) should be conducted by the State Election Commission.
According to him, allowing the establishment of the village councils/municipal councils will no doubt affect the existence of the traditional institutions including the dorbar shnongs.
“It means that the village councils will replace the dorbar shnong as the election to such bodies is by way of adult suffrage,” he said.
On the other hand, Jyrwa also said that the state election commission is to conduct the elections to the tribal district councils, even people from other communities can also participate in the electioneering process.
“Therefore, such move will definitely defeat the objective of the Sixth Schedule of safeguarding the interest of the tribal people,” he added.
Informing that another round of meeting will again be held tomorrow, Jyrwa said that they would draft the memorandum to be submitted immediately to the Centre, Prime Minister, Union Home Minister and MPs from the region.
On the other hand, MITCRM member and advocate Erwin Sutnga said, “The movement would also highlight the need for a separate chapter for Meghalaya in the Sixth Schedule which will address the issues related to identity, land and traditional institutions.”
“If we accept the proposed amendment in its present form, there will be no preservation of the tribal’s identity. In view of this, we also demand that the proposed amendment should address the issues state wise,” he added.
Earlier in January, last year, the state government had also submitted a letter to the MHA expressing its reservation on the proposed amendment.