Student unions oppose AP marriage and inheritance property bill

ITANAGAR, 20 Aug: Several student unions of the state have opposed and demanded scrapping of the Arunachal Pradesh marriage and inheritance property bill, reportedly proposed to be tabled in the upcoming assembly session.

They said the bill was being brought without consultation with the stakeholders and, if passed, it would be a disaster for the APSTs and pave the way for the non-APSTs to settle down in Arunachal permanently.

“This bill forcefully brings about a structural change in the customary laws/traditional settings of the tribal people of Arunachal. It is aggressive and undemocratic in nature and largely undermines the views and opinions of all the community-based organizations,” the AdiSU said in a press statement.

“It needs a long debate by all the stakeholders keeping the BEFR-1873 and the CAA-2019 (though it is not valid in Arunachal) in mind as the equal property law may contradict these acts,” it said.

“What we require immediately is a law that will curtail the children of APST mother and non-APST father the rights to claim APST certificate,” it said.

The AdiSU said that equal rights are given to both males and females since time immemorial.

“According to our customary and traditional laws, traditional ornaments, household items, etc, are given to girls and immoveable properties like lands are given to males. So there is no issue over this,” it said.

The union said that “the government should focus more on other issues, like uplifting girls’ literacy rate, curbing domestic violence, child abuse, malnutrition, boundary and PRC instead of such controversial bill.”

The Apatani Students’ Union (ASU) also expressed the same sentiment.

“We the tribal people have never discriminated our own children on gender basis. All the ornaments and movable properties are inherited by the girl child while non-movable properties, like forest, field and land are inherited by the son,” it said.

“Married women have the right to enjoy all the inherited property by his husband. This bill will bring confusion among tribal clan. Even many of tribal women will not support this bill,” the ASU said, and urged all the legislators, irrespective of their party affiliation, to not support the bill if it is placed in the assembly session.

The Nyishi Ethnic Students’ of Arunachal (NESA) has also strongly opposed the bill, saying that it violates the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873.

Terming the bill draconian, the NESA said that, if it is passed, the bill would “deprive the rights of every Arunachalee.”

“It has been clearly mentioned in the BEFR that no non-APST can enjoy the rights of immovable property in Arunachal. If an APST woman is married to a non-APST, she should surrender her ST certificates and PRC,” the NESA said.

The students’ association sought more clarification from the state government in this regard, “so that in near future this bill doesn’t infringe the protected rights of an APST enshrined in the BEFR 1873.”