SHILLONG: Any Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi will lose her Khasi status and all privileges and benefits as a member of the Khasi tribe. This will also apply to offsprings born out of such marriages and they will be deemed as non-Khasis.
This is according to the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (Second amendment) Bill, 2018 notified on July 24, 2018.
The Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) passed the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (Second amendment) Bill, 2018 on Wednesday during the Summer session.
Referring to the repercussions of mix marriage and laws that are unable to protect the indigenous people vis-à-vis the immigration crisis which according to him pose an imminent danger for the minority Khasi community, KHADC CEM HS Shylla said during the summer session, “Here, we see what we call the silent invasion.”
However, he maintained that he is not against love relationships or marriages as it is a person’s personal choice, however, he categorically stated that such Khasi women would lose their Khasi status.
As with regard to Khasi men, he said, “There will come a time when we will have to do the same with the Khasi men also and not only women. By then, there will not be a need for tang jait.”
After the Bill was introduced and later discussed by several of the MDCs, Shylla suggested that the Bill should be passed on the same day that it was introduced and further said that the Chairman, Teinwell Dkhar could take the sense of the House before passing the Bill.
Later, to get the sense of the House, the Chairman asked the members to raise their hands to get a unanimous decision, in which all the MDCs present raised their hands.
Considering the urgency of the situation, Shylla said that to expedite the assent of the Bill by the Governor, a delegation would meet the Chief Minister and Governor.
Later, speaking to reporters, he said the MDCs would meet the CM and Governor on July 27 and if there was a need will call a special session also.
The Bill: Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage) (Second amendment) Bill, 2018
“There is an urgent need to further strengthen the Khasi Social Custom of Lineage by way of codification of Khasi Customary Laws for better implementation of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (Khasi Social Custom of Lineage), Act, 1997,” Shylla said.
The KHADC amended Section 3 of the Principal Act. After the existing Section 3 (c), a new sub-section 3 (d) shall be inserted which states, “Any Khasi woman who marries a non-Khasi as well as her offspring(s) born out of such marriage(s) shall be deemed as non-Khasi who shall lose the Khasi status and all the privileges and benefits as a member of the Khasi tribe who cannot claim preferential privileges under any law.”
Again, in section 2 of the Principal act after the sub-section (q), a new sub-section (r) shall be inserted which states, “Non-Khasi means a person not belonging to indigenous Khasi tribe classified as Scheduled Tribe under the Constitution (Scheduled Tribe) order, 1950 (Part III- Rules and Orders under the Constitution) Part XI-Meghalaya.”
Shylla pointed out that a large number of people misused the Khasi Social Custom of Lineage for their personal advantages and self-interest which had jeopardized and seriously disturbed the social and cultural life of the Khasi people.
“It is, therefore expedient to provide a law for strictly following the prevailing Khasi Social Custom of Lineage in order to keep and preserve the traditional matrilineal system of society of the Khasis and for the protection of their interest,” he said
He said another reason to bring up the Bill was to prevent claims of Khasi status by unscrupulous persons purely for the benefits, concessions or privileges conferred on the Khasi as members of the Scheduled Tribe under the Constitution of India.
According to Shylla, land could be transferred indirectly to non-tribals through marriage to tribal Khasi women.
He said the acts such as the Trading by Non-Tribals Regulation Act, the Meghalaya (Benami Transactions Prohibition) (Amendment) Act, the Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) were not able to protect the interest of the indigenous people.
Shylla informed that during inspection of shops, Khasi women would come forward to claim that the shop belong to them whereas it belongs to a non-tribal.
He foresees young people may take up arms to fight the growing number of non-tribals. He said, “When non-tribals increase in number they will not hesitate to fight back which will result in bloodshed.”
Shylla cleared the confusion around the Bill and said it would not be retrospective. He said that the Bill would not apply to mix marriages which existed before the Bill clarifying that it would not be a retrospective law.
“It will be implemented from the day the Governor gives his assent to the Bill and after it is published in the Meghalaya Gazette,” he said.
Support for the Bill
During a discussion on the Bill, many of the MDCs supported the Bill and aired their views on the Bill.
Shylla expressed gratitude to all the MDCs who participated in the discussion and supported the Bill.
Many of the MDCs took part in the discussion of the Bill. People’s Democratic Front (PDF) MDC Grace Mary Kharpuri agreed that mix marriage posed a danger to the Khasi community and said that mix marriage was an influx which she sees even in the border areas of the state.
PDF MDC Hadrian Lyngdoh suggested an arranged marriage amongst the Khasis would be better option.
UDP MDC Rona Khymdeit said the situation in Ri-Bhoi district was different with regard to customary practices of the people in the District and urged the CEM to constitute a special committee to research about the practices in the district as there was no such practice of Tang jait in the district.