From a Correspondent
SHILLONG, Aug 17: Sixty-four years have gone, but the Khasi States are still struggling for the rights to be constitutionally recognized under the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement in line with Jammu & Kashmir.
On the completion of 64 years of the agreement signed between the Government of India and the 25 Khasi States, traditional chiefs have renewed their call for special provisions for tribals of Meghalaya in line with the Instrument of Accession for Jammu and Kashmir.
In case of Jammu and Kashmir, a similar agreement was honoured but in the case of Meghalaya, the Centre adopted a different policy.
Kashmir found mention in Article 370 of the Constitution, but traditional chiefs of Meghalaya were denied their rights to have representation in parliament, assembly or even in the Autonomous District Councils.
On August 17, 1948 the Government of India accepted the agreement signed with over 25 traditional chiefs of the 25 Khasi States, who had individually and collectively signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement with the Centre in 1947.
These Khasi States have signed on the condition that special provisions to safeguard their customary and social rights of these “unique party less” institutions with a ‘recall electoral process’ be incorporated into the Indian Constitution. On the 64th anniversary of the agreement, traditional heads of Khasi States and other stake holders met and held threadbare discussion on the agreement and other issues relating to the rights of the indigenous people. John F Kharshiing who is also the chairman of Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya, while speaking on the occasion, said that the 25 Khasi States did not sign the Instrument of Merger with the Government of India. “The Khasi States retained their identity within the provision of the Indian Constitution, when the Instrument of Accession along with its Annexed Agreement was officially accepted by the Government of India on August 17, 1948. While the Indian Princely States merged with the neighbouring States or constituted separate States with the Indian Union by means of the Instrument of Merger and the process of proclamation,” Kharshiing stated.
The meeting resolved to pursue the matter with the Central Government in order to correct the “Constitutional anomaly” and to further enlighten the people about the IOA and Annexed Agreement.