ITANAGAR, Aug 19: The demand for constitutional safeguards of indigenous tribes grew louder as the community-based organizations (CBOs) and the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) sought constitutional protection of indigenous tribes of Arunachal akin to article 371 (A) of Nagaland and article 371(G) of Mizoram of the Indian constitution.
The demand for constitutional safeguards resonated during the consultative meeting of the CBOs on preservation of culture, tradition, customary practices and protection available within the constitution of India, organized by the political department at the Dorjee Khandu Convention Hall on Wednesday.
CBOs from the rest of Arunachal and AAPSU vociferously opposed the Mon-Patkai autonomous district councils while those from the Mon-Patkai region were for it.
Following the backlash over the Mon-autonomous demand, the Chief Minister Pema Khandu led government had facilitated the consultative meeting, inviting 25 five CBOs from across the state.
Strongly opposing the autonomous demand, Arunachal Indigenous Tribes’ Forum (AITF) vice president Getam Borang stated that “there is no justification for selective autonomy and no division of Arunachal Pradesh would be tolerated.”
The AITF called for unity and integration of the state and stated that “selective autonomy demand is detrimental to the motto of one Arunachal.”
AAPSU president Hawa Bagang strongly opposed the autonomous demand and cautioned that “the union would not tolerate any attempt to divide the state,” while also stating that “the AAPSU will never let Mon-Patkai autonomy happen.”
He further suggested that the government constitute a high power committee to study the constitutional provisions similar to article 371(A) and 371(G) to protect the indigenous rights.
The Adi Bane Kebang, Galo Welfare Society, (Apatani) Tanw Supun Dukun, Tagin Cultural Society and Mishmi Welfare Society also opposed the selective autonomous demand and demanded for uniform sixth schedule for entire state or constitutional protection to the indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh.
Claiming themselves as one of the marginalized communities, the Tai-Khamti-Singpho Council demanded for enactment of protection of native minority tribes, failing which they said that they would be compelled to demand union territory consisting of undivided Lohit district.
Drawing the attention of the state government towards their plight, the Wancho Council stated that the people of Tirap, Changlang and Longding areas demanded the Patkai autonomous district council for peace and development.
The Nocte Chief Council also stated that fund given to the department of Tirap, Changlang and Longding has been properly utilized for the development of the area.
The council further appealed to the people to understand the plight of TCL areas in pursuit of peace and development.
The Monpa Mimang Tshokpa, Sartang Welfare Society, Sherdukpen Employees Welfare Association, Sajolang Elite Society and Aka Elite Society and All Bogun-Khowa Society, which fall under proposed, Mon-Autonomous appealed other CBOs to debate and discuss the demand for autonomy.
Labi Dususow of the Aka Elite Society claimed that the Aka is a politically marginalized and socio-economically backward tribe.
Pointing out deprivation of the Aka community, he claimed that there is “large encroachment of land in West Kameng and the government does not have any mechanism to stop it.”
Presiding over the consultative meeting, Deputy Chief Minister, Chowna Mein said that the meeting has been called by the government to give a larger platform to the people of the state to discuss the issue in a transparent manner.
He said that the committee chaired by him is not a recommending committee.
“We are here to take note of the views expressed by the members of community based organizations and the student bodies and to report their views to the chief minister,” the DCM said.
The committee was headed by the DCM as the chairman and seven other cabinet ministers- Bamang Felix, Alo Libang, Tumke Bagra, Mama Natung, Tage Taki, Taba Tedir and Nakap Nalo as its members, and Home Commissioner Kaling Tayeng as the member secretary.
On the occasion, Senior Additional Advocate General Kardak Ete made a power point presentation on the constitutional provisions to the State of Arunachal Pradesh under Article 371 (H) and other related articles/ acts in the constitution.