Silchar: The Foundation day of an autonomous council in Assam has brought inter-tribal issues to the fore and at least in this case, a quick and easy solution looks unlikely and unfeasible.
The Dima Hasao Autonomous Council is gearing up for marking its 71st Foundation Day, but a large section of the district’s residents are not going to take part, and, in fact, the Indigenous People’s Forum (IPF), a notable local organisation, called upon people to boycott the celebrations following the renaming of the council.
It may be mentioned that the erstwhile North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council was renamed as Dima Hasao Autonomous Council.
“We have decided to boycott the 71st foundation day celebration of the council in protest against the renaming of North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council into Dima Hasao Autonomous Council. We were always against the renaming of the council and we had sought the Assam government’s intervention with the expectation that the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council’s name would not be changed, but our demand/plea was not given importance at all,” IPF president L Kuki told the media.
Kuki said Dima Hasao has 13 different tribal communities and the renaming of North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council into Dima Hasao Autonomous Council indicates that the council is for a specific community, which is deprivation to the other tribes inhabiting the hill district for the past several years.
To strengthen their point, the IPF also pointed to a newly-constructed council gate that, the IPF claimed, only depicted the historical monuments of Dimasas. Other tribes and their culture/tradition were not given any importance, Kuki claimed. He appealed to the government to look into the issues raised by them, judiciously consider them and initiate appropriate steps.
Explaining further, Hlima Keivom, the general secretary of IPF, told EastMojo that various non-Dimasa tribes living in the Dima Hasao district were sort of made “foreigners” in the place (where they had been living for decades) when the North Cachar Hills district’s name changed to Dima Hasao district in 2010. Now, the renaming of the autonomous council to Dima Hasao Autonomous Council is adding insult to injury, he said.
He, however, claimed the government has not yet issued any gazette notification for the renaming of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council into Dima Hasao Autonomous Council and as such the renaming has not got an “official seal” so far.
Asked about the row related to the newly-constructed entrance gate (which as per the IPF has a depiction of historical monuments of Dimasas) of the council, he said the gate should have been made simple, without a depiction of any specific tribe. Depiction of a particular community will naturally make other tribes feel deprived, Keivom said.
He claimed that all the non-Dimasa tribes in the Dima Hasao district support the IPF’s stand against the renaming of the autonomous council. The tribes include Zeme-Naga, Hmar, Kuki, Baire and Vaiphei among others, he added.
However, IPF’s stance has not gone down well with Dimasa organisations. The general secretary of Dimasa Students’ Union Pramith Sengyung told EastMojo that the renaming of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council to Dima Hasao Autonomous Council had been done as per necessary procedures under the Constitution. “The council is not for any particular tribe. It is for all the tribes living in Dima Hasao. If any organisation decides to boycott the council’s foundation day, it simply means that it does not accept the council itself,” he said.
The general secretary of Dimasa Mothers’ Association, Maiphal Kemprai, concurred with Sengyung. “I appealed to all the organisations, civil society groups and the general public to celebrate the foundation day of the council on Friday with fanfare like every year to maintain peace and harmony among each other,” she told EastMojo.
The erstwhile North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council’s executive member for Irrigation Department Biswajit Daulagupu had proposed to rename the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council to Dima Hasao Autonomous Council during the 240th budget session of the 12th NC Hills Autonomous Council held at the council secretariat on March 24.
The subject was discussed among all the council members. With all the 30 members favouring the proposal, the resolution was passed by chairperson Ranu Langthasa. It was ordered that all the departments and official documentation will use Dima Hasao Autonomous Council with effect from April 26.
The North Cachar Hills District Council in Assam was set up on April 29, 1952, under Article 244(2) of the sixth schedule to the Constitution of India. It later got the recognition of an autonomous council (North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council) and at present, its name is Dima Hasao Autonomous Council.
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