Centre Asks Meghalaya Govt to Look Into The Execution of Instrument of Accession
Khasis in Meghalaya: stakeholders too
NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked the Meghalaya state government to examine the issue pertaining to the proper implementation of the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement, which is being raised by the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya and the Federation of Khasi States.
This was informed via a letter dated October 14 by Sanjay Kumar, Under Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) addressed to John F. Kharshiing, who is the chairman of the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya and the spokesperson for the Federation of Khasi States.
Kharshiing who is also the Co-Chairman, Meghalaya State Planning Board was intimidated that the state government was asked by the ministry to look into the issue raised by the two bodies.
It is pertinent to mention here that the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement was signed on August 17, 1948, by the Khasi chiefs for constitutional recognition and protection of the traditional institutions. As per the treaty, the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo chiefs and their administrative institutions of self-government must find constitutional space through provision of a separate party-less legislative body meant specifically for the traditional tribal village (Dorbar Shnong), province (Dorbar Raid) and State (Dorbar Hima) to ensure that their customary and social rights over legislative, executive and judicial authority are protected and defined in the Constitution of India under a special article.
However, the commitment of incorporating the agreement in the Constitution is yet to see the light of day. The Federation of Khasi States has been arguing that while on the one hand, the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement had expressed the commitment of the Centre towards constitution of the Khasi states assembly or council of the chiefs, on the other, the non-fulfilment of such commitment has resulted in the contradiction of laws, acts, and rules vis-à-vis the customary laws of the tribes of Meghalaya.
They have termed the failure to incorporate the agreement a “constitutional anomaly” and for over two decades now have been demanding that the Centre rights the wrong.
Such requests relating to the issue of implementation of the Instrument of Accession have been made several times already by the Centre but in vain.
On July 18, 2012, Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary, North East, Ministry of Home Affairs, had also sent a similar request to the Meghalaya State Government and subsequently, the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya had then taken up the matter and written to the Chief Minister on May 23, 2013.
When nothing seemed to happen, Kharshiing wrote a letter to the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Union home secretary Anil Goswami on the issue earlier this year. Further, a delegation of traditional institutions of Meghalaya met Kiren Rijiju, Union Minister of State, Ministry of Home Affairs, in New Delhi on August 26 this year, and Jual Oram, Union Minister, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, on September 24, in this regard.
Following this letter from the Centre, Kharshiing now said, “We will be meeting the state government to discuss the necessary constitutional amendments required to address the constitutional anomaly, which has been pending for the last six decades. The Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya and the Federation of Khasi States reiterate that according to the treaty rights, the Khasi, Jaintia and Garo chiefs and their administrative institutions of self-government must find constitutional space.”