Want Autonomy, but don’t know Autonomy!

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– J.I. Kathar, IAS (Rtd.), Diphu.

The Karbis, Dimasas and other Hills Tribes have been demanding for “Autonomy”, “More Power” Autonomous State” and “Separate State”. The Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India under Paragraph 2, Sub-Paragraphs 6 and 7, has given them a significant and concrete autonomous political power, at least within the Autonomous Territorial Council areas. The power to make laws for conduct of elections of the Councils by the Hills Tribes themselves is not a small thing. As per law, conduct of elections includes preparation of Voters Lists The power given to the Autonomous Councils to make laws for allowing and disallowing any community to contest elections of the Council, Town Committees, Village Councils, Co-operative Societies and all other grass root level bodies, is a huge autonomous power. The compulsion to give land to on-Tribal people, the fear of not allowing unconstitutional establishment of panchayats, the fear of using the customary laws of Tribes People, etc. are all linked to the power of voting and contesting in elections unconstitutionally vested on the Non-Tribal people When such political power has been given to the Karbis and Dimasas and other Hills Tribes people by Constitution, it is shameful to see that they are ignorant of their own power. It is really shameful to see that some of our leaders are abdicating our political power, and instead surrendering this significant political power to the State Government. The State Government in the garb of Assam State Election Commission must have been gleefully watching the situation. These leaders have no right to ask for “More Power”, “Autonomous State” and “Separate State”. They do not seem to know what “Autonomy” is and what “Constitution” is and what is “Sixth Schedule”? Unfortunately, they don’t seem to know what is “surrender of political power”. It appears that they do not know what is ‘political power’ as well. If they do not even have knowledge of autonomy and political power, and do not have capacity to utilize autonomous power, then there is really no meaning to give them such precious power. It is not wise to give them precious autonomous power until the people can choose qualified leaders. On 5.10.18 after the meeting outside the Central Hall of Assembly, a good Non-Tribe MLA remarked that it was a mistake to grant such a good Constitution like the Sixth Schedule to ignorant people. He prevented himself half-way from saying that it was like the proverbial “Throwing of jewels in front of pigs”. Now, therefore, to teach the people what democracy and elections are all about is the paramount importance in Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao. What makes the tribes voters select ignorant people as their leaders, must be diagnosed and eliminated? Otherwise, the day may come when the world may compare the moral character of most of us to that of the wild pigs.