Biplab Kr Dey
TURA, Oct 29 - A group of NGOs, which had earlier moved against participation of non-tribals in Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) elections, presented a memorandum to the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of GHADC on Tuesday seeking amendments to ensure non-participation of non-tribals in the Council polls.
The NGOs, including the GSU, FKJGP, ADE, AYWO and FAF, lauded the efforts of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) on the question of non-tribal participation in Council affairs. “The political will shown by KHADC is to be appreciated. Their initiative is borne not only out of necessity but also the need to chart their own destiny as provisioned by the spirit of the Sixth Schedule,” said the memo.
The NGOs demanded that the same amendments also need to be introduced in the GHADC to bar non-tribal participation in the affairs of the Council. The NGOs highlighted how the fight to bar non-tribal participation began in 2008 and continued until the previous elections in 2015 when various agitations had been held. “We (GSU) called for a strike of the GHADC office in 2011 when talks with the MDCs failed to evoke any response.
They then promised to take up the issue in its executive committee meeting after which a letter was issued by the then CEM and the strike was temporarily called off,” said the release. The ILP agitation, however, took precedence in 2013, where as in 2014 the NGOs had met to discuss the matter.
A meeting was held in Tura on September 2, 2015 to discuss the participation of non-tribals in the upcoming GHADC elections. A boycott of the elections was called on the question of non-tribal participation. Further, the NGOs went to Delhi to pursue the matter and met the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram to apprise him of the situation. “We demanded the implementation of the provisions of the Sixth Schedule”, the release added.
The NGOs were then advised that the matter was for the State Government to implement while also being assured of the matter being pursued by the Centre as well. “Oram reiterated that the Autonomous Council and State Government must make it imperative to follow the provisions of the 6th Schedule without fail, only then can the participation of only the tribals in the District Council can be ensured,” said the NGOs.
“The fight to ensure the participation of only the tribals in the District Council has been continuing. There are 18 ADCs, one Territorial Council and one Territorial Administration in India but only the GHADC allows the participation of non-tribals in the District Council. Further, only GHADC allows the employment of non-tribals in the District Council,” alleged the NGOs.
The NGOs warned that if the same was not taken up, a series of agitations would be taken up. “The Council is the domain of the Garo people meant for the development and protection of Garos. Already there has been a dilution of the protective provisions of the Sixth Schedule and we are witnessing demographic imbalance in the region where non-tribals have began to assert their bid for political dominance and power”, they said.