From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Khasi Kingdom, Himas
Mains level : Reorganisation of States in India
- A federation of 25 Himas or Khasi kingdoms that have a cosmetic existence today has planned to revisit the 1948 agreements that made present-day Meghalaya a part of India.
Concerns of Khasis
- The revisiting is aimed at safeguarding tribal customs and traditions from Central laws in force or could be enacted, such as the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
- The bill is one of the factors in move to strengthen the Federation of Khasi States that were ruled by a Syiem (king-like head of a Hima).
- Himas are expecting to come to a conclusion on how best it can insulate their customs and traditions from overriding central rules and policies.
- The Constitution has provided self-rule to a considerable extent through tribal councils, there has been an increasing demand for giving more teeth to the Khasi states.
History of Khasi Merger in India
- During the British rule, the Khasi domain was divided into the Khasi states and British territories.
- At that time, the British government had no territorial right on the Khasi states and they had to approach the chiefs of these states if they needed land for any purpose.
- After independence, the British territories became part of the Indian dominion but the Khasi states had to sign documents beginning with the Standstill Agreement that provided a few rights to the states.
- The 25 Khasi states had signed the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement with the Dominion of India between December 15, 1947, and March 19, 1948.
- The conditional treaty with these states was signed by Governor General C. Rajagopalachari on August 17, 1948.
Statehood to Meghalaya
- Meghalaya was formed by carving out two districts from the state of Assam: the United Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills, and the Garo Hills on 21 January 1972.
- Before attaining full statehood, Meghalaya was given semi-autonomous status in 1970.
- The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia tribes had their own kingdoms until they came under British administration in the 19th century.
- Later, the British incorporated Meghalaya into Assam in 1835.
- The region enjoyed semi-independent status by virtue of a treaty relationship with the British Crown.
- At the time of Indian independence in 1947, present-day Meghalaya constituted two districts of Assam and enjoyed limited autonomy within the state of Assam.
- A movement for a separate Hill State began in 1960.
- The Assam Reorganisation (Meghalaya) Act of 1969 accorded an autonomous status to the state of Meghalaya.
- The Act came into effect on 2 April 1970, and an autonomous state of Meghalaya was born out of Assam.
- In 1971, the Parliament passed the North-Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act, 1971, which conferred full statehood on the autonomous state of Meghalaya.