A delegation representing the Khasi-Jaiñtia people of Barak Valley in Assam called on Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma today to seek his help in facilitating a meeting between them and the government of Assam to discuss the long pending demand for a Khasi-Jaiñtia Development Council (KJDC) in the neighboring state.
Speaking to reporters, leader of the committee, Sebastine Pakyntein said that they have approached Sangma because his party, the National People’s Party (NPP), is a constituent member of the North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), of which the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam is also a part.
Khasis make up 1.7 lakh of the total population in the Barak Valley and live in 375 villages, he informed. These villages are in remote locations and lack real development.
The need for a KJDC has been raised by the previous Congress government in the state and with the central government but has been a low priority for Assam to implement.
“We lack many basic amenities of livelihood and developmental schemes and rarely benefit from any cultural upliftment,” Pakyntein said.
Meanwhile, Khasi Students Union (KSU) leader, Donald Thabah, said that Assam has granted development council to other minority tribes and the Khasis are only seeking the same thing for themselves.
These councils have been used in other parts of the state to develop health infrastructure, roads, communications and electricity, he added, but despite demanding the creation of the KJDC since 2011 there has been no movement on the issue from Assam.
“If one goes to the Barak Valley where the Khasi villages are located, in the remotest areas, there is zero development and the grants from the government will at least raise the standard of living of the Khasi people living there,” Thabah stated.
He informed that the Chief Minister had promised his help in getting the committee a meeting with the Assam government.