Shillong, Jan. 6: The influential Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) today demanded strengthening of the Khasi hills and Jaiñtia hills autonomous district councils on the lines of their Garo hills counterpart.
This came a day after the tripartite dialogue between the Centre, Meghalaya government and the A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC) in which it was agreed that a draft agreement would be made to strengthen the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) by vesting more powers in it.
The meeting was held under the chairmanship of P.C. Haldar, the Centre’s interlocutor on ANVC talks, joint secretary in the ministry of home affairs (Northeast), Shambhu Singh, Meghalaya chief secretary W.M.S. Pariat, the state’s principal secretary (home and political department), K.S. Kropha, along with other state government officials.
General secretary Wanding K. Marak led the ANVC delegation, while chairman Rimpu N. Marak led the ANVC (B) team.
KSU president Daniel Khyriem said the Centre should also strengthen functioning of the KHADC and the JHADC. “The Centre should bring in alterations in the other two councils as well by vesting more powers in them. This can be done by amending Para 12 (a) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution,” Khyriem said.
According to Para 12 (a), whenever there is a conflict of interest between laws made by the district councils and those of the state legislature, the latter would prevail.
He said the KSU and other organisations would be meeting soon to discuss the importance of strengthening the Khasi hills and Jaintia hills councils. “We will not talk about the demands made by the ANVC, but will discuss on the need to strengthen the KHADC and JHADC also.”
According to the draft agreement, which was agreed upon yesterday, more powers would be given to the GHADC and that the Centre would directly fund the council through the State Finance Commission.
The ANVC had also made a demand for increasing the member strength of the council from the existing 30 seats to 40, of which 35 members wou-ld be directly elected, while five would be nominated.
The group had proposed that the nominated members would include two from the ANVC, two from among the Nokmas and a woman.
According to the ANVC, the memorandum of settlement would be signed soon, while the Centre said the draft agreement would have to go through various approval processes.
The breakaway faction of the ANVC, which also participated in yesterday’s dialogue, today said it had joined the settlement process at the final stage “to ensure peace and bring about changes in terms of development, growth and progress to the deprived areas, specially the Garo dominated areas”.
“It was our cry for development has been finally responded to after much delay,” ANVC (B) chairman Rimpu N. Marak said in a statement.
He said the outfit’s focus on grassroots democracy with provisions of direct funding were included in the draft agreement.
“My movement has been to bring about positive changes in the society and I believe this can materialise by empowering the grassroots and encouraging mass participation. We will meet the traditional heads and other leaders of the society to brief them about the contents of the draft,” Marak said.