Shillong, Aug. 3: Tribal heads of the region will jointly approach the Union ministry of tribal affairs for recognition of their rights under the Constitution.
“We (tribal heads) have decided to jointly approach the ministry to provide constitutional recognition in order to safeguard and protect our social and customary laws, land rights and traditional rights through the 13th Schedule to the Constitution,” chairman of the Grand Council of Chiefs in Meghalaya, John F. Kharshiing, said.
The tribal heads include those from Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur.
A delegation of the council from Meghalaya had earlier met Union tribal affairs minister Mahadeo Singh Khandela and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi demanding constitutional recognition of the traditional institutions according to the spirit of the Instrument of Accession signed between the federation of 25 Khasi states with the Centre 65 years ago.
Moreover, recently Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had issued a directive for the appointment of a Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commissionthat would examine various issues in relation to development and welfare of tribals.
Kharshiing said, “One of the key issues which the commission would look into is the addition of a schedule in the Constitution to recognise traditional tribal institutions as governing institutions.”
He also said talks for setting up a non-political Constitutional National Council for Schedule Tribes of India have started with other tribal chiefs of the region to address the issues faced by the Scheduled Tribes in the country.