From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Article 244(A), Sixth Schedule
Mains level : Statehood issues in NE
A national party leader has promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution to safeguard the interests of the people in Assam’s tribal-majority districts.
What is Article 244(A)?
- Article 244(A) allows for the creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas.
- Inserted into the Constitution in 1969 by the then government, it also has a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
Try this PYQ from CSP 2018:
Q.The Government enacted the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act in 1996. Which one of the following is not identified as its objective?
(a) To provide self-governance
(b) To recognize traditional rights
(c) To create autonomous regions in tribal areas
(d) To free tribal people from exploitation
How is it different from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution?
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — Articles 244(2) and 275(1) — is a special provision that allows for greater political autonomy and decentralized governance.
- It is applicable to certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives.
- Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas.
- In Autonomous Councils under the Sixth Schedule, they do not have jurisdiction of law and order.
How did the demand arise?
- In the 1950s, a demand for a separate hill state arose around certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam.
- In 1960, various political parties of the hill areas merged to form the All Party Hill Leaders Conference, demanding a separate state.
- After prolonged agitations, Meghalaya gained statehood in 1972.
- The leaders of the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills were also part of this movement. They were given the option to stay in Assam or join Meghalaya.
- They stayed back as the then government promised more powers, including Article 244 (A). Since then, there has been a demand for its implementation.
- In the 1980s, this demand took the form of a movement with a number of Karbi groups resorting to violence. It soon became an armed separatist insurgency demanding full statehood.