The District-level committee decides each application and issues or rejects Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe certificates Credit: Social Media

Shillong: Questions have now been raised on whether residents in Meghalaya taking their father’s surname can avail a Scheduled Tribe certificate or not.

This comes after a notification issued by the Social Welfare Department on November 17, 2020, to the Deputy Commissioner’s of East Khasi Hills and West Khasi Hills District, on a complaint representation regarding non-issuance of Scheduled Tribe certificate.

The letter mentioned, “With reference to the subject and in continuation of this Department’s letter referred to above, I am directed to say that the decision arrived at after inter-departmental consultation with District Council Affairs and Law Department on the subject matter are to be adhered to, and no deviation can be entertained.”

The District-level committee decides each application expeditiously and issues or rejects Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe certificates of all applicants. This includes those persons whose both parents are Khasi/Tribe but have taken their father’s Surnames/Title, as per documents available and procedures laid down by passing a speaking order in each case.

The letter was issued by the N Myrboh, undersecretary, social welfare department, Government of Meghalaya.

However, Minister of Social Welfare Department, Kyrmen Shylla on Wednesday, clarified, “From the social welfare department, we had issued this letter only to raise the issue of slow issuance of SC/ST certificates. We want the process to speed up so that residents can avail it at the earliest,” said Shylla.

Speaking with EastMojo, Shylla clarified that there were many departments involved in checking and issuing the certificate. “The DCs are authorised to check if the documents are legitimate or not, and then approve the certificate. It is only the DCs who can certify who is eligible to get the certificate,” mentioned Shylla.

“Our department has no say on whether the person carrying their father’s last name be eligible for an SC/ST certificate,” he clarified.

When asked if the department’s notification will not lead to a misunderstanding, Shylla said that the government will always work for the people and get every citizens opinion. “We will work with all the stakeholders because if the government works without consulting, there would be ramifications. My view is that it should be with the majority and give what the public wants,” said Shylla.

Speaking with EastMojo, East Khasi Hills DC Isawanda Laloo said, “In compliance with government direction through a letter received from Social Welfare Department dated 17th November 2020, the District Level Committee will examine each application and decide on the basis on documents submitted by applicants.”

Once a Khasi marries a non-tribal, the individual will have to attain a clan certificate and a Tang Jait certificate. This mainly happens when an individual wants to give their surname to their children.

Tang Jait is seen in the Khasi tradition, which is also included in the Khasi Lineage Act of 1997. Tang Jait is when a new clan is created officially.

According to the Khasi Hills Autonomous District (KHASI SOCIAL CUSTOM OF LINEAGE) ACT, 1997 “Tang Jait” means a ceremony for adopting a Jait with the prefix of “Dkhar” or simply “Khar” for the person or persons born of a Khasi father and a non-­Khasi mother, and absorbed and assimilated into Khasi community.

Once a new title/clan has been officially announced the head of the clan will issue a clan certificate. Following this entire process, the individual can attain a scheduled caste/tribe certificate from the respected Deputy Commissioners.

According to a resident of Shillong who wished to remain anonymous, “Since I have taken the title (Jyrwa) from my mom and married a non-Khasi woman after we had kids my daughter is using my surname ‘Jyrwa’, but due to these issues, I have now given up running around and getting certificates approved. There are lots of procedures when it comes to documents. They require the clan certificate (Kur certificate), so there would be a lot of objection. My second, who was born recently, her surname is my first name. I strongly feel that this is no way to handle since this is not a forgery case.”

He added that there are many whom he knows who have changed their Khasi surnames.

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