Mawlai MLA Process T Sawkmie raised the spectre of Meghalaya going the Kashmir way when it comes to laws meant to protect the indigenous population, warning that provisions of the Sixth Schedule could easily be revoked in the state.
The Congress MLA compared the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which guaranteed Jammu and Kashmir’s special status, to the potential for something similar happening to the Sixth Schedule, which applies to administration of tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
“If such a situation comes we will lose our ST (Scheduled Tribe) status and there will be no more Land Transfer Act,” Sawkmie said while initiating a Zero Hour discussion on a news report of protests by certain groups outside the Meghalaya House in Kolkata recently.
The Congress legislator also said that the people of Meghalaya want to send a clear message to New Delhi that the people of the state believe in the Constitution and want India to prosper.
Sawkmie also said that those protesting in front of the Meghalaya House in Kolkata were organised by those with vested interests. The protests followed accusations that Hindu non-tribals in the state were facing state-sponsored persecution.
In his reply Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said that West Bengal police did not allow the protestors to enter onto the premises of Meghalaya House. According to him, the current imbroglio in the press and social media is primarily due to the incident that occurred in Ichamati on February 28 where an attack on anti-Citizenship Amendment Act activists were attacked by residents, which led to the death of a Khasi Students Union member, Lurshai Hynniewta. That incident had law and order repercussions in Shillong, leading to stabbing incidents in the city, which led to the death of one member of the non-tribal community. Multiple arrests have been in these cases, the CM said.
Meanwhile, speaking about the inquiry ordered by the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights to probe claims that women and children in Ichamati – the relatives of the many non-tribals who had been arrested for Hynniewta’s death or those who had fled fearing arrest – were facing harassment, Sangma informed the house that the inquiry found no such harassment, although there are instances of economic hardship due to the Covid-19 pandemic and non-renewal of trading licences by the district council for non-tribals.
The trading licence issue has been taken up with the district council, he added.