ITANAGAR, Aug 28: The legislative assembly has adopted the government’s resolution to seek inclusion of the state under the 6th schedule of the constitution, and amendment of Article 371 (H), which gives overwhelming power to the governor.
Home Minister Bamang Felix moved the resolution on behalf of the government of Arunachal. It read: “This legislative assembly resolves that the state of Arunachal Pradesh be included in the 6th schedule of the constitution of India to protect the tribal rights of the indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh.”
“This legislative assembly further resolves that the special provision with respect to the state of Arunachal Pradesh be further strengthened by amending Article 371 (H) by inserting provisions for protection of religious or social practices of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh; customary law and procedure of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh; administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to the customary law of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh; ownership and transfer of land and its resources.”
While moving the resolution, Felix said that other than the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, and the Chin Hill Regulation, 1896, there is no provision for protection of the indigenous rights of the state. He said that Article 371 (H) does not guarantee protection of the state.
Chief Minister Pema Khandu termed the resolution “the biggest step to safeguard the rights of the people of the state.” The chief minister has been under public scrutiny and criticism after the Mon Autonomous Region Demand Committee called for early creation of a Mon autonomous region in July this year.
Following opposition from various corners, the chief minister convened a consultative meeting to discuss the issue, and a meeting was subsequently held on 19 August on ‘preservation of culture, tradition, customary practices and protection available within the constitution of India’. The meeting called for constitutional protection for the indigenous tribes of Arunachal, akin to Article 371 (A) of Nagaland and Article 371 (G) of Mizoram.
The chief minister said that the resolution, “which is historic and pan-Arunachal,” would have to be drafted well, and that it will take time since it has to do with amending a constitutional provision which is not in the power of the legislative assembly.
The home minister said that the outcome of the consultative meeting was a call for amending Article 371 (H), and for bringing the state under the 6th schedule.
Gabriel D Wangsu gave a gripping account of the rights of the indigenous communities of the state.
“We all say, save the tribal culture, but we never initiated ways and means to save it,” he said, and cited the example of the tribal languages on the verge of extinction. He termed the resolution the “best possible to safeguard the rights of the people of the state.”
Jekke Tako said that the power is with the governor in the state (and) therefore it is necessary to amend it.
Former speaker and current Congress MLA Wanglin Lowangdong presented a brief on the history of the state. He said that autonomy, separate identity and privileges which had been given were undone with the creation of the state in 1987 “by the stroke of a pen.”
Congress MLA Ninong Ering said that constitutional amendment has to be made. MLA Mutchu Mithi said that, “out of the autonomy controversy, a larger debate on the rights of the Arunachalees has emerged.”
Tapuk Taku said that there are defects in the Statehood Act which have to be corrected.
Phosum Khimhun said that there has been deprivation of the communities as there are no constitutional safeguards with regard to land and resources.
Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, who chaired the 19 August consultative committee, said that the BEFR and the Chin Hill Regulation are not enough to safeguard the state.
Quotes of the day
- “Rajkhowa aake dikaya governor kia kar sakta hai.” – Jikke Tako on Article 371 (H).
- “Not only the languages, everything in Arunachal endangered.” – Gabriel D Wangsu, taking part in the resolution.
- “Yahan barey logon ke liye gold medal announce kar raha hai, lekin CO log kaam kar raha hai.” – Hayang Mangfi.
- “Once CO is always CO.” – Ninong Ering on lack of promotional avenue for state civil service officers.
- “School se college bhi pass ho giya, tab bhi CO saab Co saab hi tha.” – Chief minister on lack of career progression of APCS officers.
- “All the members of this august house may pass the bills.” – Bamang Felix while tabling bills on reduction of 30 percent salaries of the members for Covid-19.
- “Dukh ke baat hei ki humara state na schedule five and six mei hei.” – Felix while tabling government resolution on the 6th schedule and amendment of Article 371 (H).
- “Has Arunachal missed the bus or the very semblance of the bus is not there?” – Wanglin Lowangdong on protection of rights of Arunachal.
- “Humlog isme bhi nei hei, usme me bhi nahi.” – Techi Kaso on lack of constitutional provision for Arunachalees.
- “State capital ko free of cost mei diya gao wala.” – Techi Kaso on farsightedness of the Arunachalees.
- “Pema Khandu ka leadership ko saalam karta hu mei.” – Nyato Dokum on the 6th schedule and the amendment of Article 371 (H) resolutions, as he urged all the members to participate in the discussion.