Ex-militant accuses GHADC of modifying Garo law bill

From Our Correspondent

TURA: Former militant and Chairman of A’chik Matgrik Kotok Bernard N Marak has accused the Garo Hills District Autonomous Council (GHADC) of discreetly modifying the Garo Customary Law (GCL) Bill and attempting to pass the same without consent from the public, while at the same time, asserting that the bill would only be accepted if the GHADC makes its content public.
“Despite signing an Agreement with the Government, we were not even given a copy of the bill. We came to know that recently, GHADC held a meeting with some organisations which favoured GCL to which we were not invited. We also came to know that GHADC is attempting to misinform the Governor about some queries which needed immediate ramification. GHADC seems to be in a haste to pass Garo Customary Law (GCL) discreetly without seeking opinion from the actual stake holders,” Marak alleged. Pointing out that the stakeholders are women, maharis, sub tribes and A’king Nokmas in a matrilineal Garo society on behalf of which the GHADC cannot make any laws, Marak alleged that the GCL was framed by the GHADC so that it would govern the maharis, sub tribes and A’kings.
“In order to safeguard the interest of the Garo women who carry the bloodline, law should be framed by the women of the Garo society. Men framing laws for the women is unjustified. Moreover, Garo society revolves around Maharis (Clans), Achik jat (sub tribes) and akhings administered by the nokmas (women). It is the prerogative of the Garo women including the Nokmas (women) to have a final say in framing a law for the Garos in general,” Marak said adding, inviting organisations instead of maharis, sub tribes etc., was not in the best interest of the Garos as a whole. Marak added that in the recent meeting, a section of women members had walked out. “The Chairman of the GCL Committee claims that he is not aware why the women walked out. This, however, gave an insight that everyone was not okay with the present GCL.
There is a reason why many Garo intellectuals were not invited in the last meeting which can be confirmed from the list of groups who got invited. GHADC should maintain transparency and be open about what is being framed as a law,” he said.
Pointing out that there was so much diversity in the Garo society, Marak said that framing laws for it needs wider perspective and research.
He also urged the GHADC to conduct a meeting with the involvement of maharis, sub tribes, nokmas and intellectual Garo women so that the law being framed is acceptable to all.

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