KOKRAJHAR, April 27: The Indian Confederation of Indigenous and Tribal People (ICITP-North East Zone) and North East Indigenous Indian Mongolian People’s Cultural Organization (NEIIMPCO) including South West Khasi Students’ Union have demanded the rights of land, territories and natural resources of the tribal people at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) at the UN headquarters, New York.
Jebra Ram Mashahary, president of ICITP-NEZ, Jones Ingti Kathar, coordinator of NEIIMPCO and Morning Star Sumer, adviser of South West Khasi Students’ Union presented their papers on the floor of 17th session of the UNPFII held recently in New York. The leaders urged the permanent forum of the UN to seriously look in to the issues of indigenous people who are facing threat from all fronts.
The leaders of indigenous people of the North East said the indigenous people of the North-east like Bodos, karbis, Khasis, Twipras, Dimasas, Nagas, Rabhas, Garos, Hmars and other tribes had their own territories and kings but they are losing their land and territories on the advent of systematic aggression by outsiders. They said that the Government of India passed the provision of 6th Schedule in the Constitution to protect the land, language, culture and traditions of tribal people and under the constitution there is autonomous power to make laws on land and other subjects under paragraph 1,2 (7) and paragraph 3,4 and 20 for protection of territories. But the Government has eroded the autonomous power of the territorial councils by passing contradictory laws. Besides, paragraph 2(7) has not been implemented and instead laws for transfer of land of the indigenous people have been passed in 1953 and 1959. They strongly recommended that these anti indigenous people land laws should be repealed and 6th Schedule to the Constitution of India must be implemented in letter and spirit. They also demanded Karbi and Dima Hasao states under the provision of article 244 (A) of the Constitution.
The leaders of the indigenous people said the protected tribal belts and blocks in Assam were regulated under the chapter-X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation Act, 1886 by the British government and the same was amended by the Government of Assam in 1947 by creating 47 number of tribal belts and blocks for protection of land of the indigenous tribal people. However, most ironically these tribal belts and blocks have not been protected and are now encroached upon and grabbed by non-indigenous and non-protected class of people. They strongly recommended that these tribal belts and blocks must be restored.
They pointed out that since the beginning of uranium ore mining controversy in West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya, successive Indian governments have failed to satisfy the local people in the matter of forestalling the disastrous occurrence that would eventually lead to the situations causing the local people to fear the advent of miserable existence and slow, painful and untimely death of the coming generations and consequent extinction of their race later. They demanded intervention of the UN to stop the project.