Khasi students seek NCST help in safeguarding tribal rights

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SHILLONG, May 16 (Newmai): Batting for a mechanism to protect and safeguard the rights of the tribal communities of the North East region, the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has sought the intervention of the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) in this regard.

A delegation of the KSU led by its president Lambok Starwell Marngar submitted a memorandum to the NCST chairman, Nand Kumar Sai during the latter’s official tour to Meghalaya on Wednesday.

“The Union implores the Commission to prevail upon the Central and the state governments to formulate steps and mechanisms to protect and safeguard the rights of the tribal communities in the region including their survival and dignity,” Marngar said.

Pointing out that the region is plagued with the unabated migration of “outsiders” from the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Nepal and also from other parts of the country, the KSU leader said that such uncontrolled influx of “outsiders” threatens the very existence of the microscopic tribal communities of North East India.

The KSU also asked the Commission to intervene into the ongoing stalemate in the premier North East Indira Gandhi Institute of Health and Medical Sciences (NEIGRIHMS).

Due to the stand-off between two high ranking officials of the institute, two precious tribal lives were snatched away because the required equipments for their treatment are unavailable, the memorandum of the KSU said.

The KSU further requested the inclusion of members in the Commission from the eight states of the North East region.

To justify this demand, Marngar said the tribal communities from mainland India differ conspicuously from the tribes of North East India in terms of origin, geography, habits, language affiliations, cultures adding even the aspirations of tribal communities in North East India are less similar to those of the mainland tribal groups.

“The Union is of the opinion that it is high time for the regional office (of NCST) in Shillong to be fully upgraded into a full-fledged Directorate so as to cater to the requirements of the tribal populace in the NE region with precision,” he said.

After the bifurcation of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes into two different entities in 2004, the NCST office in Shillong has been entrusted with the overall jurisdiction of the states of Meghalaya, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Sikkim.

The KSU also urged the Commission to fill up all the posts that are lying vacant in the regional office to ensure smooth functioning and efficient performance of the NCST in the state.

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