The recent move by the State government to allow Khasis who break tradition by carrying their father’s clan name instead of their mother’s to apply for a Scheduled Tribe certificate has drawn some flak from traditionalists.
“We have come together as concerned citizens of the state to oppose this oppressive move of the government’s,” Banshai Marbaniang told the media at the Shillong Press Club here today.
In the Khasi Hills districts only Khasis who held their mother’s surname as their own were issued Scheduled Tribe certificates by the government. The move to allow fathers to give their surnames to their children was championed by men’s rights organisation, the Syngkhong Rympei Thymmai (SRT), which celebrated the government’s new recognition last week.
“We will never accept this notification and demand that the government immediately revoke it, failing which we will be compelled to take strong steps,” Marbaniang said, adding that such NGOs like the SRT are trying to turn the Khasi matrilineal system on its head and divide the society.
He also described the ruling by the government as a “direct encroachment” of the jurisdiction of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC). Marbaniang also called for the KHADC and its Jaiñtia Hills counterpart push for the implementation of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) Act 1997 and the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Clan Administration) Bill 2018.
Meanwhile, Rothell Khongsit said, “The state government notification is trying to mess with the clan system of the Khasis practised for a thousand years. If Khasis are allowed to use their father’s clan name as their surname then this will also lead to forbidden marriages among the same clans and the whole customary system and practices of the Khasis will be a mix-up.”
Instead of interfering with the lineage system, Khasis who want to alter the customs are free to exit the Khasi tribe, he added.