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TURA: Former ANVC (B) militant Bernard N Marak has said that demanding ILP in the Sixth Schedule area is like demanding a general law over the land of the Hill Tribals adding, it (ILP) is not a tribal mechanism but a general mechanism of the state.
“Hill Tribals should choose Sixth Schedule over ILP because ILP is not a tribal mechanism but a general mechanism of the state. Meghalaya is a general state which should not be asked to make law over the lands of the Hill tribals as the land belongs not to the state but to the people,” Marak said.
Marak added that there is a constitutional barrier through which tribal lands are protected from general laws and the people should not ask state to dilute their rights.
“When the Hill District was given to the Garos, the Khasi and the Jaintias, complete autonomy was given to the people over Land which stands valid till today. If we demand ILP over our own land, it is like demanding the general law to be imposed over our own autonomous rights. We should understand the Constitutional reservations before demanding ILP as it will dilute our rights,” he reasoned.
According to Marak, ILP can check only those who enter the state legally but those who are sneaking through the porous gateways will remain untouched. Instead of ILP, he suggested the strengthening of the traditional system, the ‘Law of the land’ as well as exercising autonomous authority over Land in a more stringent way than ILP, which should be implemented by traditional bodies through the Autonomous District Councils.
“Land management in our state, is a Council subject hence State cannot frame law as it is not under it’s jurisdiction. While saying this, I want to make it clear that I m not against ILP however I l felt it necessary to highlight the facts as tribal laws stand supreme in the tribal areas of Meghalaya. The law of the land is the tribal laws which has been practiced since time immemorial so our aim should be to preserve that tribal law without diluting tribal rights which is recognised and protected under the the Constitution, as it stands supreme law in the tribal lands of our state,” Marak reminded, while adding that he would choose Sixth Schedule over ILP if given a choice.