Karbi students outside Assam reiterate violation of tribal rights
Diphu, Sep. 14 (EMN): A conglomeration of several Karbi Students Association (KSA) living outside Karbi Anglong (Greater Guwahati, Shillong, Nagaon, Tezpur, Khetri, Jorhat, Hojai, Golaghat, Lanka and Lumding) have jointly issued a press communiqué regarding the recently signed ‘Peace Accord’ on Monday.
The statement said, “We the students have always supported the civil and social organisations in their demands to increase the protection and development of the indigenous scheduled tribes of Karbi Anglong districts. We support the demand for implementation of autonomy as prescribed by the Constitution of India leading to the creation of an Autonomous State within the state of Assam. We are happy that the armed groups have come over ground to negotiate for this peace deal, which will rehabilitate them and bring much needed additional funds to the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council”.
However, the statement said that the students were aggrieved over the insertion of some clauses, which contradicted the basis for the existence of the autonomous district councils. The anti-tribal clauses, which had been forced on the signatories, were under clause 2 of the settlement.
“The most dangerous among them is sub clause 2.3 which opts to open 10 of the 44 elected seats for all communities. This goes against the very object of the sixth schedule. And the bar on non-tribal contesting in the elected seats is reflected in the very words of debate in the Constituent assembly. It was stated that non-tribal could seat in the council by being nominated only but not through election.”
“It is evident that in a ‘tribal area’ as defined in the schedule only tribals have the right to stand for election. That is why at the inclusion of the BTC into the schedule in 2003 since a majority of the population was non-tribal, a specific reservation clause for the different communities was included in the modified schedule applicable only to the BTC area.
Therefore, to enforce such a formula in the original Sixth Schedule area of KAAC is absurd and against the object of the schedule, which aims to give protection and autonomy to the scheduled tribes, it read.
It further said that it was unfortunate that the settlement wanted to surreptitiously legitimise the proposed 125th amendments to the Sixth Schedule, which aspired to usurp the powers of the council derived from paragraph 2 (7) read with 2 (6) by entrusting the said powers relating to council elections over to the State Election Commission.
“The settlement aims to place more high ranking officials of the state government to oversee the functions of the KAAC thereby encroaching on its autonomy and impeding the direct relationship between the council and the governor. We are also aggrieved that such important matters under clause 2 were not placed before the people for discussion and that the indigenous tribal organisations were not taken into confidence as would have been the norm under the schedule”, it stated.
It added that the student orgs. welcomed the peace process, but condemned the violation of the hallowed principles of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India based on ‘majoritarian’ politics. They (students) pointed out that elected members were representatives of the Karbi people and it was their duty to carry out the voice of the people.