KHNAM member breaks down over voting rights issue

IMG-20171012-WA0006SHILLONG, OCT 12: Opposition KHNAM member Adelbert Nongrum today broke down in the House while expressing concern over the delay of the KHADC to amend the AD Rules that allowed non-indigenous citizens to participate in election process.

An emotional Nongrum also charged the ruling People Democratic Forum (PDF)-led executive committee of showing lack of seriousness and sincerity towards the issue which according to him will affect the indigenous people and will turned Meghalaya into another Tripura state.

This was soon after the KHADC chief PN Syiem tabled a report of the EC on the proposed amendment of the Assam and Meghalaya Autonomous Districts (Constitution of District Councils) Rules, 1951 as amended on the first day of Council’s session held on Thursday.

Syiem announced that the EC after deliberation on the proposal deems it necessary to refer the matter again to the Committee for further in-depth study.

The Committee headed by former KHADC CEM HS Shylla was constituted after the KHADC had earlier during the Budget session passed a resolution for bringing amendment to Rule 128 of the AD Rules.

Rule 128 of the AD Rules clearly states – “All citizen of India not below the age of 18 years can contest, be electors in the District Council election”, which according to the KHNAM is detrimental to the welfare of tribal people.

“The Committee has reconsidered the draft proposals minutely including any legal aspect which may come into conflict with the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India,” Syiem stated in his report.

It was also seen that when Nongrum could not control his tears while participating in the discussion on the report of the EC, Syiem rose from his seat and went to console the opposition member.

Stating that how long the EC will realize the seriousness of the issue, the KHNAM member said, “Come what may, I will continue to raise my voice because I don’t want KHADC to become another GHADC and I don’t want Meghalaya to become another Tripura.”

“If we don’t correct this mistake now, no doubt the future generation will curse and spit on our graveyards,” he said.

Referring to the excuse made by the EC, Nongrum however said while the present EC busy thinking about getting political majority, the indigenous people of the region are becoming minority in their own land.

“It seems that the KHADC is just a scheme giving body because it has been fooled by the BJP-led NDA government at the centre by sanctioning the Rs 133.12 crore special assistance grant,” he said.

Threatening that the Rule 128 if left uncorrected will become an issue against the People Democratic Front (PDF), a new regional political party that is in majority in the KHADC, he said this is because that when the ADCs in Mizoram have specifically stated in their rules the district council is only for schedule tribe, then why this excuse from the KHADC.

In his reply, the KHADC chief assured that the EC is willing to call for a special session at any time once the Committee submits its report.

“We are lawmakers and it is our duty to protect the rights and interest of the indigenous people,” he said while clarifying that the decision to refer back the matter to the Committee was to ensure that the KHADC proposal will withstand any judicial scrutiny.

Earlier, Syiem also agreed to include experts to assist the Committee on the matter besides seeking the views of all the members of the House irrespective of party affiliation.

By Our Reporter

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