Rengma Nagas demand autonomous district council
Why In news?
- The Rengma Nagas in Assam have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding an autonomous district council amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.
- The Rengma Naga Peoples’ Council (RNPC), a registered body, said in the memorandum that the Rengmas were the first tribal people in Assam to have encountered the British in 1839, but the existing Rengma Hills was eliminated from the political map of the State and replaced with that of Mikir Hills (now Karbi Anglong) in 1951.
Who are Rengma Naga?
- This is a Naga tribe found in states of Nagaland and Assam India. According to the Population Census of India-2011, the Rengma population stands at just over 60 thousand.
- The headquarters of the Rengmas in Nagaland is at Tseminyu, and the headquarters of the Rengmas in Assam state is located at Phentsero/Karenga Village which is also located there.
- Like any of the other Naga tribes, there are few written historical records of Rengmas.
- The Rengmas are experts in terrace cultivation. Ngada is the annual harvest festival celebrated by the Rengmas.
- In Assam state, the Rengma tribals are found in the Karbi-Anglong, the then Mikir Hills. The Rengmas migrated to the Mikir Hills in the early part of 1800.
What are Autonomous District Councils (ADCs)?
- The Autonomous districts and regional councils are empowered with civil and judicial powers that can establish village courts/ local courts within their jurisdiction to hear the trial of particular cases involving and the concerning the tribes.
- Governors of states that fall under the 6th Schedule specify the jurisdiction of high courts in the state for each of these given cases.
- Along with Autonomous District Councils, the 6th Schedule also advocates for separate Regional Councils for each defined area constituted as an autonomous region according to that.
- In all, there are 10 districts in the Northeast region those are registered as autonomous districts according to record –out of them 3 in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one is in Tripura.
- Given all These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
- Every autonomous district and regional council consist of not more than thirty members, of which 4 are nominated by the state governor and the rest via elections, all of whom remain in power for a term of 5 years.
Connection between the 6th Schedule and Autonomous District Councils.
- According to the 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution the administration of the tribal areas in the four northeastern states of Tripura and Mizoram, Assam, Meghalaya, it is also mentioned per Article 244 of the constitution.
- Governor of the concerned state is empowered to increase or decrease the areas or change the names of the autonomous districts. While the executive powers of the Union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in 5th schedule, the 6th schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.
- The acts made in the Parliament or in the state legislature usually do not apply to ADC-autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
- These Councils have also been endowed with a wide range of civil and criminal judicial powers, for example establishing village courts, and many other provisions etc. However, the jurisdiction of these councils is also subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court of the state.
- The 6th schedule to the Constitution also includes 10 autonomous district councils in 4 states. These are:
- In Mizoram: Chakma Autonomous District Council-CADC, Lai Autonomous District Council, Mara Autonomous District Council.
- Assam: Bodoland Territorial Council-BTC, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council.
- Tripura: Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council-TTAADC.
- Meghalaya:Garo Hills Autonomous District Council-GHADC, Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council-JHADC and Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council-KHADC.
What is NSCN (I-M) and its stand?
- The National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN (Isak-Muivah), which is in talks with the Centre for a peace deal, Rengma issue was one of the important agendas of the “Indo-Naga political talks” and no authority should go far enough to override their interests.
- More than 3,000 Rengma Nagas were forced to relocate to relief camps in 2013 after several people were killed in a series of attacks following a call given by a Karbi insurgent group.
- The Centre is likely to finalise a peace pact with the six Karbi insurgent groups and one of them- the KLNLF signed a suspension of operation in 2009 with the Assam government.
- The Sixth schedule of the Constitution protects tribal populations and provides autonomy to the communities through creation of autonomous development councils that can frame laws on land, public health, agriculture and others. As of now, 10 autonomous councils exist in Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. The specified tribal areas are the North Cachar Hills, Karbi Anglong and the Bodoland Territorial Area in Assam. The Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council has 26 seats and elections are due in 2022.
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