Context:

The Rengma Nagas in Assam have written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah demanding an autonomous district council amid a decision by the Central and the State governments to upgrade the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into a territorial council.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Constitutional Provisions, Constitutional Bodies), GS-I: Indian Society

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Rengma Naga
  2. About Autonomous District Councils (ADCs)
  3. Connection between the 6th Schedule and ADCs
  4. About the recent demand of Rengma Nagas

Rengma Naga

  • Rengma is a Naga tribe found in Nagaland and Assam states of India. According to the 2011 Population Census of India, Rengma population stands at just over 60 thousand.
  • The headquarter of the Rengmas in Nagaland is at Tseminyu, and the headquarter of the Rengmas in Assam is located at Phentsero/Karenga Village.
  • Like other Naga tribes, there are few written historical records of Rengmas.
  • The Rengmas are experts in terrace cultivation. The harvest festival of the Rengmas is called Ngada.
  • In Assam, the Rengma tribals are found in the Karbi-Anglong, the then Mikir Hills. The Rengmas migrated to the then Mikir Hills in the early part of 1800.

About Autonomous District Councils (ADCs)

  • The Autonomous districts and regional councils (ADCs) are empowered with civil and judicial powers can constitute village courts within their jurisdiction to hear the trial of cases involving the tribes.
  • Governors of states that fall under the Sixth Schedule specify the jurisdiction of high courts for each of these cases.
  • Along with ADCs, the Sixth Schedule also provides for separate Regional Councils for each area constituted as an autonomous region.
  • In all, there are 10 areas in the Northeast that are registered as autonomous districts – three in Assam, Meghalaya and Mizoram and one in Tripura.
  • These regions are named as district council of (name of district) and regional council of (name of region).
  • Each autonomous district and regional council consist of not more than 30 members, of which four are nominated by the governor and the rest via elections, all of whom remain in power for a term of five years.

Connection between the 6th Schedule and ADCs

  • The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution deals with the administration of the tribal areas in the four northeastern states of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as per Article 244.
  • The Governor is empowered to increase or decrease the areas or change the names of the autonomous districts. While executive powers of the Union extend in Scheduled areas with respect to their administration in Vth schedule, the VIth schedule areas remain within executive authority of the state.
  • The acts of Parliament or the state legislature do not apply to autonomous districts and autonomous regions or apply with specified modifications and exceptions.
  • The Councils have also been endowed with wide civil and criminal judicial powers, for example establishing village courts etc. However, the jurisdiction of these councils is subject to the jurisdiction of the concerned High Court.
  • The sixth schedule to the Constitution includes 10 autonomous district councils in 4 states. These are:
  • Assam: Bodoland Territorial Council, Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council and Dima Hasao Autonomous District Council.
  • Meghalaya:Garo Hills Autonomous District Council, Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council and Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council.
  • Tripura: Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.
  • Mizoram: Chakma Autonomous District Council, Lai Autonomous District Council, Mara Autonomous District Council.

About the recent demand of Rengma Nagas

The History

  • The Rengma Naga Peoples’ Council (RNPC), a registered body, said in the memorandum that the Rengmas were the first tribal people in Assam to have encountered the British in 1839, but the existing Rengma Hills was eliminated from the political map of the State and replaced with that of Mikir Hills (now Karbi Anglong) in 1951.
  • Narrating its history, the council said that during the Burmese invasions of Assam in 1816 and 1819, it was the Rengmas who gave shelter to the Ahom refugees.
  • The petition said that the Rengma Hills was partitioned in 1963 between Assam and Nagaland at the time of creation of Nagaland State and the Karbis, who were known as Mikirs till 1976, were the indigeneous tribal people of Mikir Hills.
  • RNPC president said that the government was on the verge of taking a decision without taking them on board and thus they had written to the MHA and the Chief Minister.

NSCN (I-M) stand

  • The National Socialist Council of Nagaland or NSCN (Isak-Muivah), which is in talks with the Centre for a peace deal, said that the Rengma issue was one of the important agendas of the “Indo-Naga political talks” and no authority should go far enough to override their interests.
  • More than 3,000 Rengma Nagas were forced to relocate to relief camps in 2013 after several people were killed in a series of attacks following a call given by a Karbi insurgent group.
  • The Centre is likely to finalise a peace pact with the six Karbi insurgent groups and one of them- the KLNLF signed a suspension of operation in 2009 with the Assam government.

-Source: The Hindu

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