Village Council Facing Obstacles in Autonomous District of Karbi Anglong

Disagreement between the ruling cliques of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Assam government concerning creation of Village Council in sixth scheduled autonomous district of Karbi Anglong is surfacing with each passing day.

Several pressure groups ostensibly serving the interest of the party in power are mounting pressure on the autonomous council to rescind the draft bill prepared by the authority to shape the new system of governance.

Prior to the puja holidays, Karbi Students Association (Bidya Teron faction),JACAS, KLNLF,KRAO,AIKNA,AKAYU and KRA placed a memorandum to the Chief Executive Member of KAAC demanding withdrawal of the draft bill proposing the creation of Village Council in Karbi Anglong.

An uncanny logic has been put forward in the memorandum whose signatory includes separate state demanding ultra organization and organization demanding creation of regional council for development of Kuki tribe dominated area. The memo has argued that “Village Councils are against the sixth schedule of the constitution. The Karbis, Rengmas, Garos, Khasis, Dimasas,Kukis, Hmars, Jeme Nagas, Shyams and all other ST tribes of Karbi Anglong have their own tradetional Village Council. The Karbis have already excellent traditional Village Councils for centuries and the KAAC has the power to enact laws involving the Karbi Village Council.”

Nevertheless the apparently pro regime memorandum has not pointed out that whatsoever conventional ethnic village council may exist among the awfully browbeaten scheduled tribes of this district, it has neither any economic nor any legal opinion building domination under the duel administrative system functioning in this special statured district.

Here the fund for development is controlled by the KAAC, the administration and judiciary is run by Assam government, KAAC collects minor revenues whereas Assam government munch through sales tax, exercise duty, transport tax etc.

Present demography of this sixth scheduled area where both scheduled tribes and non tribal are entitled to vote in the autonomous council election unlike other sixth scheduled areas where autonomous council’s rule is prevalent, maximum sparsely populated tribes like Rengmas, Garos, Khasis, Dimasas,Kukis, Hmars, Jeme Nagas, Shyams hardly gets any representation in the council either through election or by nomination and if at all manages to creep in the executive committee of the KAAC they hardly remains functional due to the hegemony of the larger tribe.

So far the existences of unendorsed village council of various tribes are concerned they do not exercise any financial or political power officially.

Over the past decade, no Rengma, Shyam, Khasi, Kuki has found representation in the congress ruled KAAC either through nomination or election; where according to the spirit of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution the Executive Committee of the KAAC recommends the nominee of the unrepresented and small tribes listed in the Sixth Schedule. But in practice in the long regime of the congress, hardly any tribal nominee has been absorbed in the executive council of KAAC and it is regularly filled up by non tribes with large populations.

The memorandum without fail has mentioned that “people of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao have been demanding implementation of Article 244(A) of the constitution since 1986 and for separate state since 1954. The people of Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao will do everything to protect, strengthen, develop and hold election of the traditional village councils as per the sixth schedule of the Constitution after gaining statehood honestly and joyfully.”

The memo has not mentioned anything about the possible hazard it may create if the democratically elected village councils are empowered financially, politically and through a legal system which will help in downward sift of fund for development.

Sushanta Roy is a journalist in Assam, India, who photographs and writes about the people, animals and flora of Assam, and the things that affect them.