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December 20, 2010

Constitutional safeguards sought for Hmar tribe

SILCHAR, Dec 19: Hmar Students’ Association (HSA) Barak Valley in a series of memoranda to the Centre and the Government of Assam since 1988 has been seeking constitutional safeguards for Hmar tribe living outside the two autonomous districts of NC Hills and Karbi Anglong in the three plain districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi on the scheduled tribe list. A delegation of the Association on Saturday met L Phangcho, Commissioner and Secretary WPT and BC Department of Government of Assam and submitted a memorandum to him, citing specific grounds why their demand for constitutional safeguards for Hmar tribe should not be conceded to.
Around 1.20 lakh Hmars live in the three districts of Barak Valley who constitute a large chunk of population. Lalthuthung Hmar, president, and Zarzolien Hmar, general secretary of the Association reminded that their memorandum submitted to him on September 24, 2008 was forwarded by him to the Director, Government of India, tribal affairs who in turn suggested the State Government to initiate necessary action in this regard. Both the leaders regretted to say that till date, nothing has been done on the matter.
They have alleged discrimination against the Hmars of plain areas in respect of the all India and UPSC examinations. They are denied constitutional entitlements due to their non scheduled tribe status. All though the Government of Assam did grant education, employment and economic benefits for quotas reserved against ST (Hills), the same could not be applicable to Hmars. This has culminated in denial of the privileges to the Hmars of plain districts as enjoyed by the Hmars of autonomous districts.
Lalthuthung Hmar and Zarzolien Hmar further said considered against the tribal characteristics, background of deprivation and distinctive cultural heritage and tradition and their contribution towards the development of Assam, their grievances should be considered on priority basis. Even after six decades of independence and development planning, Hmars are at the bottom of the human development indices.
The Association leaders have forcefully argued for recognizing the Hmars of the plain districts as ST by enacting a legislation in the Parliament. They believe he would take the matter with the Chief Minister of Assam and through him the Tribal Affairs Ministry Government of India for accommodation of their legitimate aspirations for their socio-economic, cultural and academic improvement. (SentinelAssam)

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