(Source : The Sentinel, Assam)
By our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, Dec 8: United People’s Development Solidarity (UPDS) political secretary W Mukrang said that the Centre, the Assam Government and the UPDS had, in principle, agreed to convert the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) into Karbi Autonomous Territorial Council (KATC) and replace the name Karbi Anglong with Karbi Autonomous Territory (KAT).
Talking to The Sentinel, Mukrang said: “We had a discussion with Centre’s peace interlocutor PC Haldar and representatives of the Assam Government to convert the KAAC into KATC and replace the name Karbi Anglong with KAT. They have, in principle, agreed to this demand. The Assam Government has already sent a proposal in this regard to the Centre. We have accepted this alternative structure of governance — that is, maximum autonomy not out of compulsion but seeking an honourable and respectable interim solution between the existing council and the State.”
Mukrang, however, added: “Our demand for Statehood still remains, but till that happens, we are going in for such an alternative structure for the sake of development of Karbi Anglong. We are going in for such an arrangement because Karbi Anglong is lagging much behind economically.”
On the would-be anatomy of the KATC, Mukrang said: “It will be a 55-member council with 45 seats reserved for Karbis, five seats for other indigenous tribes and five seats open for all. The election of the KATC will be conducted by the Election Commission of India, not by the Assam Government’s Election Department. In order to prevent infiltration into the hill district, inner-line permit system will be implemented.” The official language of the KATC, according to Mukrang, will be English till such time as it can be replaced by Hindi. “The imposition of the Assam Official Language Act, 1961, the use of Assamese in official documents such as land pattas, electoral rolls etc and Assamese language as the medium of instruction in government schools or government-aided schools in Karbi Anglong have to be withdrawn with immediate effect,” Mukrang said, and added: “We aren’t satisfied with the existing KAAC as it has utterly failed to develop Karbi Anglong. In the new structure, we shall get more funds. Our priority is to solve the problem of unemployment. The KAAC has failed to create any new posts despite scope. Under the KATC, we shall have our own reservation and recruitment policy. The KATC itself will be the appointing authority, not the State Government.”
On the relation with the Governor, the UPDS charter of demands says: “The Council of Ministers, through its rights to advise the Governor under Article 163, incessantly interferes in the normal executive/legislative functions of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC), thereby undermining its governance and functioning. Under para 20BA of the Sixth Schedule, the Governor is, while exercising his discretion, required to consult the Council of Ministers. Experience has shown this to be the case; and through this constitutional instrument, the plain leaders of Assam always kept the politics of the hill/tribal areas under their control deceptively, which contradicts the administrative autonomy granted to them in the Sixth Schedule. This needs to be resolved once and for all by either amending Article 163 or by removing the words ‘the Council of Ministers’ from para 20BA in the Sixth Schedule.”
Other demands of the outfit are granting of general amnesty to all UPDS leaders, cadres, associates and sympathizers, withdrawal of cases against them, and special recruitment for UPDS cadres in the armed forces.
“Our demands for Statehood are within the framework of the Constitution. We appeal to the people of the State to appreciate our demand for a peaceful solution of the Karbi Anglong problem, ” he added.