Shillong, May 26: The Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya (GCCM) today opposed the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule which sought to replace the traditional Dorbar Shnong by village council.
Speaking to reporters here, GCCM chairman, John F. Kharshiing said that in a meeting held yesterday, it was unanimously resolved to oppose the establishment of village councils and municipal councils.
Kharshiing said that the proposal of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) that the elections to such village councils should be based on adult suffrage was an attempt to dilute the customary practices of the traditional Dorbar Shnong.
“The Sixth Schedule was created to protect and safeguard the interests of the indigenous tribes of Meghalaya. Therefore, elections cannot be based on adult suffrage since the district councils and the existence of the traditional institutions is meant for the indigenous tribes of the state,” Kharshiing said.
According to Kharshiing, the GCCM is demanding from the Centre to include the Instrument of Accession (IOA) and Annexed Agreement (AA) signed by the Union of India with the 25 Khasi States in 1948 under 370 (A) of the Constitution of India.
“We also demanded that the State government and the District Councils should pass the resolution to ensure fulfillment of the IOA and AA,” he said.
He however said that the Council of Chiefs would be compelled to seek the intervention of the United Nation Organization (UNO) against the alleged violation of the tribal rights, if the demand is not met.
Meanwhile, the GCCM also expressed strong reservation against the alleged objectionable remarks made by the MHA that the Dorbar Shnongs are “undemocratic and unconstitutional.”
Kharshiing said that the MHA in its letter to the Meghalaya government while raising queries on the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Village Administration) Bill, 2014 last year, had made uncalled remarks about the traditional Dorbar Shnong.
The GCCM also urged the Minister of State of Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and the MPs from Meghalaya to view the remarks with serious concern.
“I would like to invite the MHA officials to prove that they (Dorbar Shnongs) are undemocratic. If they can, I will resign as chairman of Federation of Khasi States and if they can’t, then such officials should be taken to task,” Kharshiing challenged.
Informing that the issue will also be taken up in the upcoming 5th Dorbar Ri scheduled to be held in October, Kharshiing said that the GCCM has also urged all the Himas to make people aware about such a move of the Centre.