Demand for ‘Autonomous Council’ by Rengma Nagas in Assam
Demand for ‘autonomous council’ by Rengma Nagas in Assam
Recently the Rengma Nagas in Assam have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding an autonomous district council amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.
- The Rengma Naga People’s Council (RNPC) said in the memorandum that the Rengma were the first tribal community in Assam to face the British in 1839. But the existing Rengma Hills were removed from the political map of the state, and replaced with Mikir Hills (now Karbi Anglong) in 1951.
- Rengma Naga People’s Council describing its history said that it was Rengma during the Burmese invasions of Assam in the year 1816 to 1819 who gave shelter to the Assam refugees.
- The petition states that at the time of the formation of the state of Nagaland in 1963, the Rengma Hills were divided between Assam and Nagaland and the Karbis, which were known as Mikir till 1976, were divided between Assam and Nagaland. The Mikir were the indigenous tribal people of the Hills. Thus till the year 1951, Rengma Hills and Mikir Hills were two separate entities.
- Whereas the Karbis have no history in the Rengma Hills. The people who are currently living in Rengma Hills are from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya. They speak different dialects and do not know the Karbi language of Karbi Anglong.
Prospect of NSCN (IM)
- The Assam government is in a position to strike a peace agreement with the dominant militant outfits in the Karbi-Anglong region. Meanwhile, a Naga organization called the National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN (Isak-Muivah) (NSCN-IM) has said that any settlement that oppresses the Rengma Nagas will not be acceptable to them.
- At the heart of all this episode is the Karbi Anglong area, formerly known as ‘Rengma Hills’ has been subjected to aggressive influx of outsiders due to vested interests.
What are ‘Autonomous District Councils’?
- The 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution provides autonomy to communities through the creation of ‘Autonomous Development Councils’ to protect the tribal population.
- In this way autonomous development councils can make laws on land, public health, agriculture and more. Presently there are 10 Autonomous Councils in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.
- The tribal areas specified in this petition are North Cachar Hills, KarbiAnglong and Bodoland Territorial Areas in Assam. The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council has 26
- According to the 6th Schedule, the tribal areas of the 4 states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram, are technically separate from the Scheduled Areas, as these areas come under the purview of the executive authority of the state, but in the exercise of certain legislative and judicial powers. Provision has also been made for the formation of ‘Zilla Parishads’ and ‘Regional Councils’ in these areas.
- Under this, each district is an autonomous district and the governor can modify/divide the boundaries of the said tribal areas through a notification.
Governor by a public notification:
- Can include any area.
- Can take out any area.
- Can constitute a new autonomous district.
- Can increase the area of any autonomous district.
- Can reduce the area of any autonomous district.
- Can change the name of any autonomous district.
- Can define the boundaries of an autonomous district.
Constitution of District Councils and Zonal Councils:
- Each Autonomous District shall have a Zilla Parishad consisting of not more than 30 members and a maximum of 4 members shall be nominated by the Governor and the remaining members shall be elected on the basis of adult franchise.
- Each autonomous region constituted will have a separate Zonal Council.
- Each Zila Parishad and each Zonal Council shall have a body corporate called Zila Parishad (name of the district) and Regional Parishad (name of the region) respectively.
- These will have a perpetual succession system and a collective seal, and they will act only by the above names and they will be acted upon.