Proceedings of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly assembled after the First General Election.
The Assembly met 10 A.M. on Tuesday the 28th November, 1972 in the Assembly Chamber, Shillong with Hon. Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Speaker : There are no question today. Let us take up the first item in today's list of business. Mr. D. D. Lapang to call the attention of the Chief Minister under Rule 54 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Assembly to the news-item published in the Implanter of the 18th November, 1972 under the Caption "Foreigners arrested".
Shri D.D. Lapang (Nongpoh S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to call the attention of the Chief Minister under 54 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of the Assembly to a news item published and Conduct of Business of the Assembly to a news item published in the Implanter of 18th November, 1972 under the caption "Foreigners arrested". Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I be allowed to say that 4 persons from Bangladesh were taken into custody by the Police at Jowai Police Station. These people were found by the Police to have possessed cutting instruments, Bangladesh currency of Rupees 951, Pak currency of Rupees 4, and Indian currency of Rupees 60. Mr. Speaker, Sir, this reveals the fact that not only 4 foreigners that are in the State but may be many, may be in Shillong the capital of our State Mr. Speaker, Sir, allowing the foreigners to live in our land is no better than allowing snakes. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not know whether this happened due to the negligence of the officers in the border areas or the betrayal or negligence of the District head.
Mr. Speaker : Do you mean the betrayal or the mismanagement ?
Shri D.D. Lapang : I would therefore, request the authority to please enlighten me on the matter.
Mr. Speaker : The Chief Minister.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, four Bangladesh nationals namely, Md. Syidulla and Abdul Ajit were produced before Deputy Commissioner, Jaintia Hills on November, 11, 1972 by Sangot Myrchiang and Lyngdoh Korbar of Nongtalang village with a written report alleging that they tresspassed into the village forest called Lakrem Muker and cut some trees and converted them into timbers. They claimed that they were engaged by one Akbar Khonglah Head Master, Sohkha Government M.E. School. The Bangladesh nationals were arrested U/S 54 Cr. P.C. and were forwarded to custody with a view to prosecute them under the appropriate section of law. The petition was forwarded to O/C Dawki P.S. for enquiry. In the meantime, Akbar Khonglah also lodged a report to O/C Dawki P.S. alleging that some Nongtalang people stole away his timbers from Larem Muker Forest and took away his labourers. During enquiry, it transpired that there is a dispute about joint ownership of the above village forest between Nongtalang and Sohkha villages Enquiry is in progress. The Bangladesh nationals are being interrogated by S.B. Police. On 17th November, 1972 Officer in-charge Dawki police Station visited Sohkha and Nongtalang villagers to enquire into the matter. Due to misunderstanding, Nongtalang villagers did not co-operate with the Investigating Officer. As enquiry is not yet completed no case has been registered. On November, 17th 1972 Officer-in-charge Dawki Police Station has his staff, after making enquiry in Sohkha village about the allegation and counter allegation ledged by Nongtalang and Sohkha villagers about the disputed forest Larem Muker, Officer-in charge Dawki Police Station visited Nongtalang village with Shri Akbar Khonglah complainant from Sohkha and met the Headman and others of Nongtalang. A crowd of about 300 villagers collected for the occasion became agitated due to presence of Shri Akbar Khonglah at Nongtalang with Police. They also used abusive language to Shri Akbar Khonglah. At this Shri Khonglah became apprehensive and left. Seeing the mood of the crowd and to avoid any untoward incident, the Officer-in-charge Dawki Police Station decided to postpone the enquiry and left the village in a vehicle. After proceeding some distance they found a road blocked due to placing of boulders and stones by unknown miscreants and since the vehicle could not proceed further. Officer-in-charge Dawki Police Station and Shri Khonglah returned on foot to Sohkha and from that village, Officer-in-charge Dawki Police Station returned to Dawki. The following morning the stranded vehicle returned to Dawki. Shri Khonglah did not lodge any complaint about the incident. As Officer-in-charge Dawki Police Station was not obstructed, no case was lodged by him.
Mr. Speaker : Before we pass on to the next item, I will give a clarification on the definition of the words "precincts of the House". Under Assembly Rule 2(i) the expression "Precincts of the House" means and includes the Chamber, the Lobbies, the Galleries, the Libraries and such other places as the Speaker may from time to time specify. The expression "such other places" has not been specified. I hereby direct that the expression "such other places" shall include the whole of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly premises including its compound and the Corridors and passages connecting or leading to the various rooms of the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, the Ministers and the Secretariat officers, but excluding the rooms and corridors now under occupation by the All India Radio, Shillong Branch. This order will take effect from now onward till I direct otherwise.
Let us pass on to the next item of today's list of business. The first Motion as arrived at by ballot is to be moved either by Mr. H.E. Pohshna or by Mr. Francis K. Mawlot.
Shri H.E. Pohshna (Nongtalang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move for discussion about the problem of the people living in the border of Meghalaya after the creation of Bangladesh.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Sir, while speaking on this Motion, I would like to thank the hon. Member, Shri D.D. Lapang, who has just spoken on the Calling attention Motion which also relates to a very important matter. He has mentioned about the most vital problem that our border people are facing.
Mr. Speaker : May I interrupt, Mr. Pohshna. I just say Motion No. 1 but after going through the list, let us take up both Motions No. 1 and No. 2 because Motion No. 2 also deals with the same subject. Of course Motion No. 2 was brought by Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw. You can dwell on both the Motions.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Sir, the problem of the people living in the border areas of Meghalaya after the creation of Bangladesh has assumed a very serious dimension. The first point that I would like to bring before the House is about the security of life and property of the people living in the border areas. The time has not exceeded one year after Bangladesh has been created and it has not even exceeded more than six months when our people in the border were expecting that with the creation of Bangladesh, the trade relations will be better and the economic condition of the people will be much improved. But all these hopes have been belied ; everything has turned upside down. Sir, on the 17th October 1972 we have heard that two women of Jaliakhala village in the remotest corner of Jaintia Hills have been kidnapped by the Bangladesh army personnels. On the very same day, one man was beaten and buried alive while he was carrying on his pan leaves business. On that very day, three women are being assaulted were detained two days in the camp of the army personnel of Bangladesh on a charge of doing smuggling and they have been taken to Sylhet Jail and to-day they are in the Jail and to-day they are in that Jail. So, nobody knows the where about, and the present condition of these women. Sir, again on the 1st of this month, one Nepali labourer while he was guarding the plantations had also been shot dead. Again on the 24th of this month while our people were returning from Pyrdi-wah on Pyan river by boat because the mid-stream on that place has been declared as the boundary of India and Bangladesh and our people had to run for protection to the B.S.F. camp. But they were told by the B.S.F. personnels that they have no sepoys to protect the security of the people. Even yesterday, at 2 p.m. while some people were carrying their betel nuts from Pyrdiwah within our territory, they were harassed by the army personnels of Bangladesh. But in order to shirk their responsibility, the Government may say that such things happened in Bangladesh, in a foreign land. Even yesterday while our people were carrying their betel nuts in a boat the fully loaded boat, has been taken away by the personnels of the army of Bangladesh at gun point. Sir, these things are happening. Many such things happened in Muktapur ; some people and their cattle were taken away and our people in the border area really in very unsafe position.
Mr. Speaker : Do the people expect that after the creation of Bangladesh there will be free trade between the two sides ?
Shri H.E. Pohshna : They were expecting that. And what they have their experiencing during the last six months will be a clear indication of their expectations of a free trade. Many people from this side went to the other side and the people of that side also came to our side for trade. Even the people of Shillong went right down to Sylhet and brought many cane chairs. But now things have taken a different turn. I do not know how such things happened ? I am not going to criticise our Government, I know that our Chief Minister is a very sincere in helping the border people; I know that the Transport Minister is very keen in helping these people. But there are difficulties which are standing in the way because they have no jurisdiction outside the boundaries of Meghalaya and the Border Security Force can do what they like. If one goes to the Border Security Force he will find plenty of things; there is no cry for dearth of food and there is no dearth of fish and eggs for the B.S.F. at Dawki. But there is a cry from the civilian population for want of all these things.
Therefore, I would suggest, Sir, that security measures as well as food supplies should be extended through out the entire border of Khasi and Jaintia Hills from Jaliakhala up to Maheshkhola. I do not know about Garo Hills. The people there are crying border is defenceless whereas the entire border is guarded by the people of the other side under the pretext of checking smuggling. Our women who were crossing the border have been subjected to all sorts of harassment by the other side. I feel that these things are very serious. The other day I went to Muktapur. I found one lady who said that 'my paddy is ready for harvest'. But when I asked the police and the Border Security force to go near the fields', they said "we have no force to spare'. I would therefore request the Government of Meghalaya to see that with the creation of Bangladesh the life and property of the border people are well protected. At present our neighbours whom we have given shelter, whom we have given protection and whom we have given food and other things by spending crores of rupees have become very treacherous friends. I should say that we cannot trust them any more. Some people may say that this is a very serious charge.
Mr. Speaker : I think the remark is rather serious. If some of these acts were committed by the armed personnel of Bangladesh, the entire neighbouring country cannot be blamed.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : But Sir, due to non-publication to the people of the suspension of the trade between India and Bangladesh our people were still carrying their pan leaves and betel nuts. If we went to Jaflong area we would have found these things were going on.
Shri E. Bareh (Minister, Agriculture) : May I know whether Jaflong is inside Indian territory or inside Bangladesh ?
Shri H.E. Pohshna : It is in Bangladesh. Sir, I am told that the pan leaves were taken to Bangladesh during the period when the trade has not been suspended.
Sir, coming to the second point, that is the economy of the border people. The economy of the border people has been much affected as a result of this stoppage of trade all along the border. The other day I went to Muktapur and Satpator area and I find that the people are living on jungle roots and wild potatoes. Once can well imagine the economic condition of the people when regular sources of income have been stopped. Now, two months have elapsed when there is no trade and the entire trade has been paralysed all along the border. Everyone can imagine the serious economic situation that has been faced by our people there as produces are lying unsold and the markets have been revived uptil now and yet the Government has not come to their rescue.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very glad to say that the other day, before this Session, our Chief Minister has formulated schemes for the relief of the border people. These new schemes indeed show that the Government of Meghalaya is desirous to help the border people. But Sir, before any scheme is to be submitted by the Government, I think this House should be enlightened so that we know what amount is meant of the relief of those people. But Sir, our Government have approached the Government of India for reviving the border trade by lifting all the restrictions along the border as was done in 1967-71. But I have very little hope as the Bangladesh Government will copy the action of the Pakistan Government. Sir, recently, we have heard of autrocities and brutal killings resorted to by the Bangladesh security personnel on our people in the borders and their attitude toward the Indian people is very very strange. It was told that any body found carrying Indian goods was punished and deliberately killed because they don't want Indian goods in Bangladesh. Sir, I am glad that in the statement released to the press it has been mentioned that Rs. 25 lakhs has been earmarked for test relief works to the border people. But this amount is very very small Sir, as will not meet the minimum requirements of the border people to compensate the suspension of the Indo-Bangladesh Trade Agreement. Considering the vast population of about 2½ lakhs of people living in the border and that only Rs. 10 per head will be shared by the people, I for one, consider this two small an amount compared with the amount of crores and crores of rupees spent during the conflict. These crores of rupees have been spent for food, shelter and defences and hundred of our soldiers were killed for these ungrateful neighbours. Many have been captured by the Pakistanis and have became homeless. Therefore, Sir, I consider this a very small amount and this Rs. 25 lakhs will not even be equal to one bill of the Contractor of the P.R. Department.
* Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like the hon. Member to be a little bit liberal and fair about the schemes for the Indo-Bangladesh Trade. Sir along with the schemes we have also formulated some programmes for the development of markets in the border areas. We are also finding new markets, new avenues for the border produces and the different commodities to be included in the Table Agreement. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would request the hon. Member to be a bit fair because there can be no solution of the economic problem of the border people without maintaining a good relationship with this newly born country of Bangladesh. Because we are strategically situated in the border, the participant countries can freely conduct their trade from one country to the other. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would request the hon. Member to be self restrained on this so that a good friendship is established between Meghalaya and Bangladesh. I think it must be the desire of everyone here in this House that a good and lasting relation is maintained between the two countries.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I believe it is the desire of all of us that a good relationship is established between the two countries. But, Sir, I cannot refrain myself from criticising the Trade Agreement envisaged between the two countries because just before its implementation, these things happened. The Trade Agreement then has to be suspended. I fully agree with the Hon'ble Chief Minister that our trade in the border areas depends upon our good relationship with our neighbouring countries. So far as I am concerned, I think this is the responsibility of the State Government and the Government of India. Because since the declaration of the certain of Bangladesh Soldiers. All these representatives were sent to the Government in time for enquiries. But Sir, no enquiry, no officers no B.D.Os and nothing was sent to investigate into the representation of our people. I do not know what action has been taken by the Government to compensate for the loss as such of Bangladesh war. Whereas adequate amount had been paid to the suffering people of Bangladesh in the last conflict for giving them shelter, food etc. Also in the final payment of a contractor's bill by the R.R. department, they have been very prompt and they have not been allowed to wait for the next financial year. For our people whenever they want payments strait bills, they will say 'Come and get your money by the end of the financial year". Mr. Speaker, Sir, well this is usually done to our own people. Therefore, I would request the Government that something should be done for the relief of our own brethrens who have suffered during the war. Fourteen months have passed but nothing was done for the relief of our own people by the same Government which had spent crores for the Bangladesh people. I do not want to take the tome of the House but I want to raise some more points. Now, Sir, if you go to Dawki you will find no markets for the procedure of the local border people whereas the people were bringing these thing from outside.
Mr. Speaker : Don't you know that these people are also in economic hardship ?
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Also Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have seen trucks loaded with woods and timbers which are going every day from Shillong to Bangladesh to give shelter to the people who have been inside Bangladesh.
Mr. Speaker : But do these trucks belong to the Government or private contractors ?
Shri H.E. Pohshna : I do not know, Sir. We simply watch at the Check-post and we saw these things occurring daily. This has appeared very strange to us. Now, Sir, naturally it aroused the sentiment of the people when their produces were not going into Bangladesh and Government produces go and I think we shall have to discuss this Rs. 25 lakhs on the floor of this House which has been earmarked for those people living in the borders. Before I take my seat, I want to impress upon this Government the necessity to insist on the Government of India for more relief assistance to the hills people in the border with Bangladesh. It is also a fact, Sir, that our people are dying of starvation for not getting food supply or ration from the Government and now, when the whole trade is closed political developments have taken a different turn and Government is trying its level best to restore the same to find a peaceful solution of the problem. On the other hand and judging the Government going goods to Bangladesh, Sir, I doubt whether it is a fact that the trade has been suspended. I think only for the small traders the border trade has been suspended. Big trade is going on. Sir, I am very happy that you have given time for making some observation on the subject. Our Chief Minister has said that the Government is taking up not only the test relief measures but also measures for transport of the produces of the people to the markets. But this means transportation of certain produces within the limited areas only and and to limited destination like border to Shillong and border to Tura. I wonder whether there is any market for border produces at Shillong or Tura. And what about the Shillong-Gauhati Route ? is it that Government are afraid to displease the General Manager of the Assam-Meghalaya State Road Transport Corporation ? The main trade business is on the Shillong-Gauhati Route and without G.S. Road it seems that we do not require any help for the transport of produces from the border to Shillong.
Mr. Speaker : Do you mean to say that instead of given transport subsidies to the border areas for transporting their produce to Shillong or Tura, subsidies should be given for the transport of produces from Shillong to the plain districts of Assam ?
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : Naturally, there is no market at Shillong or Tura for our produces. So, it has be extended to those places where our produces can find market. Therefore, Sir, with these few words, I would request our Chief Minister in particular to request the Government of India not to take advantage of the silent co-operation of our people. We had the Chinese aggression and we co-operated then and we had the Bangladesh-Pakistani War and there also we co-operated and sacrificed.
Mr. Speaker : It is with the spirit of co-operation to defend the sacred land which is the sacred duty of every citizen.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : We are defending and co-operating to defend our sacred land but while defending our sacred land, we have become defenceless ourselves.
( Laughter )
Sir, when the Bangladesh-Pak conflict was over we should have no obligation to give shelter and food to the people of Bangladesh as we did when they are in India as foreigners. With these few words, I do request the Chief Minister, who is very serious in helping our border people, specially in Meghalaya to extend all possible help to them as one-third of whose population consists of the border people. There is no time to wait for the implementation of the Central schemes as these schemes will be delayed when the people are already starving. I have already given a list starving people. But it took weeks to enquire into my report. And what did the officer entrusted with the enquiry do ? It is reported that he spent his time in drinking. He is going nothing. I want that serious consideration should be given by the Government.
In Assam, if there is any floods, flood of money come there and if there is any troubled or hail-storm or cyclone in other parts of the country, hails storm and cyclones of money come there for them ? Eleven months have affected our people, where is the help for them ? Eleven months have now elapsed, no help has come from the Government for the hailstorm affected cyclone affected and trade-deadlock affected people.
Mr. Speaker : May I request Prof. Majaw to move Motion No. 2 ?
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw (Mawhati S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I move that this Assembly do now take into consideration to render immediate assistance to the tribal people living along the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya by air-dropping free rations to them, distribution cash doles in deserving cases and purchasing all the bazar products of the border people who are unable to sell their goods because of the closure of the border markets.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : First of all, I would like to appeal to the Government, particularly to the Chief Minister, who will perhaps reply to the debate, kindly to pay particular attention to the points that we shall raise. It has been our sad experience, since we occupied these seats, the the Government very often give replies which are prepared by the Secretaries and which are sometimes irrelevant, pedantic and pompous. Such replies are often prepared by the Secretaries one or two days earlier.
Mr. Speaker : Ministers are not sitting idle.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : I hope not.
Mr. Speaker : It is rather insinuating to say that Ministers have no capacity
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Far from it. But perhaps sometimes due to over work they have been compelled to read out just verbatim what has been prepared by the Secretaries.
Mr. Speaker Sir, during the last two elections to the Legislative Assembly and the District Council, big promises were made that the border people would pass into an era of prosperity now that the trade between the two countries would be opened. So may expectations were kindled in the hearts of the border people. Now, having visited various part of the border and looking at the conditions of the people, we are shocked to see what has taken place. When we here are living in relative comfort, those people are actually dying of starvation. In the village of Ryngku, a small Garo village in Khasi Hills, right at the bottom of the Ri War, on the Bangladesh border, three people have died of starvation and I do not know how many Ministers have visited this village after this incident or how many officers have visited this village. Of course, the road there, in many parts, has been washed away during the monsoon rains. It is too much to expect hard-working and over-worked people to go down to Ryngku village. All the expectations of the people have now been belied. For example, betel-nut which used to be sold at a particular months ago is now sold at one-third of the price. What was being sold for Rs. 300 is now being sold for only Rs. 100. You can imagine, Mr. Speaker, Sir, how all this has affected our people. When the border trade was opened, every one was asked to get a permit - a border permit. For this an announcement was issued in the papers and the simple village folks were told to take photographs. It is customary for the people to wear ties and put on sola topis to pose for the photograph, and some of the people went to the extent of hiring ties and sola topis for the photograph with the result that when these people went to the border with this permit or passport-sized photograph with a basket loan on the back with ragged clothes, the B.S.F. personnel could not recognise the permit-holder when compared with the photograph and the permit. In this way Mr. Speaker, Sir, so many thousands of people were summarily sent back. Fresh instructions were issued by the Deputy Commissioner that another photograph, without a tie, should be taken. Again Mr. Speaker, Sir, the people had to incur further expenditure and another amount had to be spent, ant for doing this each person had to spend about Rs. 30. On the fine day, after the border had been closed, these people, knowing nothing, were allowed to go 8 kilometres into Bangladesh and there they were summarily arrested and put into jail. Some of them are kept in Tamabil jail and some other in the Sylhet jail. These people were not informed, neither by the State Government nor by the Central Government, that border trade had been closed. On approaching the border these people were looted, women raped on the spot and their cash robbed. All these things happened Mr. Speaker, Sir, due to the failure of this Government to give information to the people of the border areas at that time when the border trade, an announcement was made through the radio, but since many of these people cannot afford to have radio sets (they have not received transistor radios as a reward for sterilisation) they did not know whether the border trade had been published in the newspaper, many people cannot read, and that also was done only after two or three weeks of the closure of the border trade. The situation in the border areas at that time was worse.
Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, I may refer to the callous death and inhuman treatment meted out to a certain people who crossed over to the other side of the border. Now to give expression to the sorrow and consternation of the people, we had to organise a hartal here in Shillong to draw the attention of this Government to the worsening situation in the border areas. Of course Mr. Speaker, Sir, a Press Note and an announcement in the newspapers were given by the State Government, but that was done after the hartal. There were two reasons out of three, for holding a hartal, firstly due to the inhuman treatment metered out to our tribal people living in Bangladesh and secondly the closure of the border markets. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it may be said that the Government had not discussed these things earlier. The facts came out only after the hartal when the hon. Member, Mr. Francis K. Mawlot and myself net Mrs. Indira Gandhi and gave her the memorandum, expressing the shortcomings of this State Government. The hartal was held in order to wake up this Government about the suffering of the border people.
Mr. Speaker : Which particular hartal are you referring to ?
Prof. M.N. Majaw : That particular hartal held on the 10th of November, 1972. Mr. Speaker, Sir, now we have certain schemes to execute and 25 lakhs have been allotted for the purpose. The Chief Minister has assured us that trucks are going to be acquired. For this purpose the Minister-in-charge of R.R. had to rush down to Calcutta to arrange for these trucks. We are told that the Central Government has refused to give the trucks because it says that some beautiful Japanese trucks have been given to the State Government during the refugee days and the Government of India wants the Meghalaya Government to buy these trucks. I hope the Minister-in-charge of R.R. will persuade the Government of India that these trucks be given to the Meghalaya Government free of cost. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to point that bringing more trucks, a fleet of beautiful Japanese trucks will not solve the situation. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to suggest that cash doles should be given to a certain specific area where actual starvation has taken place, in addition to free rations. Then, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to urge upon the Government to allow the border people to have border trade not only the headload trade but a bigger trade. We all know that there are two types of trades, one is the border trade market during market days by headloads, and the other, the bigger trade where lakhs and lakhs of money through the State Bank of India and other means are spent. As pointed out by the hon. Member, Mr. H.E. Pohshna, the Government is still continuing to send logs and timbers to Bangladesh costing lakhs and lakh of rupees but the people are not allowed. Is this the Government for the people or against the people ? If it is a Government for the people and of the people why is the Government not encouraging certain persons to get export licenses for exporting on a large scale betel-nuts and pan-leaves to Bangladesh ? The closure of the border according to the Bangladesh Government is due to smuggling (interruption) ....
Mr. Speaker : It appears that every hon. Member is facing only on the sufferings of the border people after the closure of the border trade. In fact the border trade affects the whole population of Meghalaya. It does not affect the produces of the border people alone but also the produces of the people of Meghalaya in other areas.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, of course it is so. But the Motion here is regarding the suffering of our tribal people living in the border areas.
Mr. Speaker : Mr. Majaw, according to your observation it appears that a large number of people of the border areas are dying of starvation. But so far it appears that only 3 people at Ryngku bazar have died.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am happy that my attention has been drawn to this. But as a matter of fact, there is no meaning in having political power if we do not have the economic power and if in case and in the other areas of the State, purchase is made by the Government of Bangladesh or any other Government and for that matter we are happy and welcome such suggestion. In this case the people who are suffering more than the people of other areas of the State are the people of the border areas. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to request this Government that since the amount of trade, the major trade is still going on since the Indo-Pak Trade Agreement, why not allow certain selected persons along the border to trade with valid export licences on a large scale. Open the door, open the avenue and market at least for the major trade and the people will get some assistance and we will not need this 25 lakhs of rupees. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is one argument given by a certain person that this situation in the border areas will have to be continued for another 6 months because of the election in Bangladesh. This, Mr. Speaker, Sir, is difficult to wholly accept because it is difficult to imagine that our people have to die in order that somebody may be elected in the Bangladesh election. Many of our people will die just because of the desire that a particular person will win the election. Why our border people have to die just because Maulana Bhasani, the leader of Bangladesh, is complaining that there is a great deal of smuggling but the Government is strong enough to hold the majority in the Assembly and they do not agree to the person who is in the minority. Otherwise I fear, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that we the tribal people here are afraid lest his suggestions may be accepted.
Mr. Speaker : I may inform the hon. Members that it is not proper to refer to the political problem of foreign countries. I do not see that there is any link with it here. So, it is better for you to confine to our own problem.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have seen that in the political mind and in the economic struggle there is no co-efficient as the business and trade are going to be at a standstill in respect of betel nut and pan leaves within this border area. So Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am afraid that in dealing with this particular aspect of the problem, the Government may come across that particular person who might have an evil design by taking advantage of the prevailing circumstances to annex and include this area with the so-called Greater Bengal including Assam and particularly Cachar District. The sufferings of the people in this border have assumed such serious proportions that they defy any description Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not want to be partial and as charity begins at home, I only want to impress the fact that we should have a sense of self Preservation particularly among us.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot (Nongstoin S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am very glad to have this opportunity to express my heart-felt sorrow on the sufferings of our people in the border area since the emergence of Bangladesh. We have seen that during the Bangladesh trouble the Government of India has rendered all kinds of help, even by air-dropping of food-stuffs and other things when the roads were damaged in summer season. I do not want to devote much time on this, but, I will just point out only a few points, and at the same time I request the Hon'ble Chief Minister to take a special precaution, special protection on the suffering the people in the Border of Bangladesh. During the last month I happened to tour in Maheskhola, Mawsynram and other places along the border. We have been receiving reports that the produces of Our people in the border are being thrown away. Their produces are being kept in the forest because they cannot sell them ; they cannot make any profit out of them and as a result most of them are starving because they do not have money to pay for rice, sugar etc. for their living. As the hon. Members known that the border trade has been closed ; no food, no essential commodities can be procured in the border because so far they were depending on their trade with Bangladesh. They bring rice, sugar and other things from Bangladesh and in return they sell their betel nut, pan-leaves etc. Now, if you happen to go to Balat, the price of 1 kg. of rice is not rice is not less than Rs. 4.50. Imagine the condition of the people who have no money. How long they can live and how much they can afford to spend for their food in order to keep themselves alive. The report has reached us that in the Ryngkut village three persons have died. The B.D.O., Mawsynram has deputed two officers to make an on the spot enquiry and they have reported that death took place due to starvation. Some other reports we are receiving that death took place due to starvation. Some other reports we are receiving from Dawki side State that children are dying due to malnutrition. The fact remains that if any thing happens in Bangladesh our Government has nothing to do with it. Let them tackle the matter among themselves and the duty of our Government is to see that our people and our own children are being fed. I would suggest, therefore, that the produces of the border people like betel-nuts, pan leaves, oranges, pineapples, etc., should be brought by Government and sold anywhere or if there is no market for them also, it is the duty of the Government to feed these people. We assured that the people of the border areas will be getting subsided ration. But when we were at Maheshkhola we happened to hold a meeting at Umsih and we were informed in the course of the meeting that there are fair price shop dealers alright but these dealers never bring rice, sugar and not even salt. If they are not bringing these commodities, it is the duty of the Government and the duty of each and everyone to see that things which are accorded to, I mean, which are supposed to be given to these people should be given rightly, should be distributed equally and there should be no special treatment for any particular person. I therefore, stress upon the Government not to make long long promises, not to print their promises in different papers, in famous papers only to find that promises end in papers. I hope Government will take this with all the seriousness it deserves, so that what we are assured and what the Government have promised will be implemented in order to satisfy the masses that is to say, the the people in the border areas are being treated very kindly, very warmly by the Government of Meghalaya.
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh (Mawkyrwat S.T.) : Besides all the difficulties narrated by the hon. Members and suggestions made thereof, I would like to draw the attention of the Members of this House to the fact depending the difficulties experienced by the border areas for the last 25 years, we find that we could not trust the other side, because they are trying to crush us economically. Therefore, Sir, Government should create some avenues of its own and not depend on the other side otherwise, we cannot solve the problems people. The Government should make arrangement where the border produces and good can be sold and transported. I find that there is no rice and that essential commodities have not reached the border areas. Tons of rice and sugar have been drawn from the Government quotas but never reached these areas. Mr. Speaker, Sir, on the 31st of September, a meeting was held in the office of the Director of Supply where the meeting was held in the office of the Director of Supply where the meeting was held in the office of the Director of Supply where the D.C. was also there to discuss about ways and means for reaching essential controlled commodities to the borders and stockist centres were sanctioned and tenders for stockists also approved, but the Government do not want it implemented anything which that meeting suggested to give food to border people specially at this critical juncture when the border trade has been closed. I would suggest that something should be done now to help the border people and I would request the Government to move the Central Government to treat this areas on special ground to make some arrangements either by opening roads of test relief works to reach every village so that their goods can be transported to the towns and cities in India.
* Shri Lewis Bareh (Rymbai S.T.) : While associating myself with the Motion moved by the hon. Members who are representing the people in the order areas I would like to say that soon after the creation of Bangladesh, there was scope for economic development of the people in the border areas with the opening of border trade. The people in the border have risked their security during the last struggle between India and Pakistan. But things now turned from bad to worse for the border people as the border trades were now treated as illegal in the border areas.
Now, Sir, besides other centres as pointed out by the hon. Members, the people in border areas at Umkiang centre of Narpuh Doloishi and the people of Rymbai and Lakadong Dolaiship at Bonghat centre cannot sell their perishable produces to other centres. I would urge the Government to find out ways and means for providing Government trades for free transport of the local produces for sale to other markets.
Since the closure of border trades the people are now entirely depending for their livelihood on the forest herbs and other jungles potatoes.
In conclusion, I would like to draw the immediate attention of the Government to necessity of opening Test relief works in the form of Crash schemes for the border people to provide employment for them, Sir, during the last few months, I have submitted a Test relief scheme to the D.C., Jowai for necessary action but no action has been taken yet. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker : Now, Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang (Mawsynram S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, before I speak in the Motion by two of our friends from the other side, Prof. M.N. Majaw and Shri Mawlot, I would like to have a clarification on the statement about deaths of starvation in some parts of Ryngku area. I do not know how manyy hon. friends got this information that those people are dying of starvation. Actually I went to visit these areas very recently and nobody told me about the death which took place as a result of starvation. In the absence of medical report, it is very difficult to say whether they are dying of starvation or natural death.
Mr. Speaker : The whole question is whether the people of that area informed the authority that there was a case of starvation.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang : I did not get any information, and no such report is there about starvation. So I think my friends from the other side Sir, just gathered the information from the market. But the closure of border trade has greatly the people economically but not to the extent that they are dying of starvation. I want to clarify this point since this area happens to be under my constituency.
Mr. Speaker : Now Shri S.D. Khongwir.
* Shri S.D. Khongwir (Mawlai S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would also like to associate with these Motions and would also like to associate in this discussion.
Mr. Speaker : Both the Motions.
Shri S.D. Khongwir : Mr. Speaker, Sir, both the Motions are identical so I refer to both the Motions. I wish very much to associate myself with these two Motions in so far as they have connection with the problems of the border people. With regard to the problems of the border people. With regard to the problems of the border people, it is a well-known fact that ever since the partition of the country recurring problems have often came and with each of the problems that came during the Pakistani rule, now Bangladesh, we know that our people in the border areas have suffered a lot. Mr. Speaker, Sir, since the Motions referred to the problem of the border areas after the creation of Bangladesh, I would like to confine to the discussion after the liberation of the Bangladesh people in so far as our people in the border areas are concerned, I would like to refer to a very important incident that took place which brought a lot of damages to the agricultural lands and badly affected the economic life of our border people. There is a horrible onslaught of a lakhs of refugees from across the border into our areas and with this event our people in the border areas have suffered a lot. I has brought a lot of damages to the lands and many people were displeased and those people, having been rendered homeless, time and again, moved the Government for immediate relief. But as already expressed by some of the Members, up to this day, the Government have not been able to do something to help those people to rehabilitate them and free them from the miseries and troubles they faced during the recent influx and during the time of Pakistani rule. We have notice that many people from our border areas have perforce shifted; they have to leave their hearth and home and shifted to various placed. For instance, many of our people from the War area have shifted to those areas like the Bhoi area, etc. because of their several problems that they are facing in the border areas. Mr. Speaker, Sir, after the liberation of Bangladesh and after the signing of the Bilateral Indo-Bangladesh Trade Agreement, there was a flicker of hope in our people. They think that now that Bangladesh is liberated and now that this Trade Agreement has finally come to an expected finale they were thinking that their problems would we solved. They have placed all their hops on this Agreement but all of a sudden, for various reasons better known to the Government of Bangladesh, the trade agreement had suddenly been suspended. As already expressed by the hon. Members who spoke before me, this has brought untold misery to our people in the border areas and at this juncture, I would like Mr. Speaker, Sir, to refer to the harrowing tales narrated to us by the hon. Member, Mr. Pohshna. This incident happened mostly during the trade embargo between our people and the people of Bangladesh. The only point I would like to impress upon for information and at the same time for the earnest and sincere consideration of the Government is that they should really and truly examine the difficulties and problems of our border people and immediate rush of help and assistance should be made available to these people. I would also like to refer to a very sad incident in which the Government has failed to implement or to carry out. Even after lapse of 8 to 9 months since it came to the notice of the Government, that the people of the border areas, due to influx of refugees, were crying for help from the Government, the Government had not yet been able to do anything really good to the people of the border area. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am afraid that until and unless the Government rush immediate help to those border people, there will be a huge migration of those people. They will seek life elsewhere and sooner or later the entire border will be only a waste land without any people. The incidents that occurred, as narrated by the hon. Member, Mr. Pohshna, might create a sense of ill-feeling and insecurity among our border people. With these few words, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker : Now, Mr. Choudhuri.
Shri P.N. Choudhuri (Laban) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, with the emergence of Bangladesh the people of Meghalaya were very happy and jubilant with the expectation that their misery and suffering caused by partition of the country would come to an end of course, for some time the normal trade was resumed and there were inflow and outflow of goods between the two friendly countries. But unfortunately with the closure of the border and suspension of border trades, the sufferings of the people of Meghalaya in general and traders, the sufferings of the people of Meghalaya in general traders and growers in particular have increased to a great extent. The previous hon. Members have very elaborately discussed the matter and I would not like to repeat the same but I would like to stress the need of reopening of border trade and in the meantime to extend relief to the affected people. Although this is a matter which is the concern of the Government of India the State Government should take up urgent with the Government of India and see that the border trade is reopened as early as possible so that our people can find easy market for sale of their produce and Bangladesh people also can find market here for their produce goods like fish, egg. etc. In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Government should come forward with immediate relief to the suffering people. This matter has already been discussed by the other hon. Members and I have only to add a few points to supplement to what they have said. The Government should purchase the produce through their marketing agencies and the State Trading Corporation so that the produces get fair price. These Organisations should come to the rescue of the people who have been affected so that they can find better markets for their product. The Government should also arrange for quick transportation of these.
Now, Sir, coming to the question of closure of the border we have been told that one of the reasons for that was smuggling which was very rampant in the border. But I do not agree with the view that the smuggling can be eliminated totally by closing the border. Never this could be eliminated in the world.
Mr. Speaker : Who knows ? You know that necessity is the mother of invention.
( laughter )
Shri P.N. Choudhuri : Sir, this may be true. But what I feel that if the normal trade channel functions the incidence of smuggling will be reduced and the suffering of the people will be less. So, the first necessity is that the border trade should be reopened. Bangladesh is our friend by country and I am confident they will also agree to this in our mutual interest. About the relief measure, I would like to urge upon the Government to send relief to the border people speedily by opening more fair price shops where they can get their essential commodities at controlled rate. So far as the traders who are solely dependent on border traders are concerned, they were very much hard hot and the Government should see that they also get the same relief and in order to rescue them from total extinction Government should also take long term scheme for improving the border economy. With these few words, I resume my seat.
Mr. Speaker : Now Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh (Pariong S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, over and above what the hon. Member has said in connection with the Motion before the House, I would like to say nothing more in detail than making only a few observations. No doubt the Government is aware of the fact there is a problem of security and suffering of the people especially after the closure of the border trade. Some hon. Members have said that the suffering is not to the extent of starvation. Probably the hon. Member does not know the actual State of affairs but we know that the suffering is every much. Although it it true that the magnitude of suffering in the entire border area with a population of 2 lakhs 50 thousand or 2 lakhs 30 thousand may not be same. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, the insecurity of the people in the border areas is increasing. It is more than what is was when Bangladesh was with Pakistan. Then Sir, I visited the border areas and In found that there were lots of Security Forces who were very very keen in performing their duties and looking after the people. But now Mr. Speaker, Sir, there is no such keen interest to keep the security of our people. That is why, all of a sudden the trouble, that has been narrated by the hon Mover of the Motion, happened. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I want to mention that the cause of the suffering of the people in the border is not only because of the closure of the border trade. But in certain localities and in certain places they are suffering much because of the fact that their properties, cultivation and dwelling places very badly damaged during the camping of the Bangladesh refugees. It is a fact Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the people in the south-western parts of Khasi Hills like Maheshkhola, Borsora, Ballat and Ryngku were very badly affected and this was also brought to the notice of the Government during the last session. The Government had already promised to look into this matter as lakhs and lakhs of rupees had been incurred in the damages. In respect of cultivation that was damaged during the camping of the Bangladesh refugees there, the Government had promised to pay compensation to those affected but till now, to our knowledge, there is no investigation at all into those loses. Another cause is the closure of the border trade, as has been pointed out by the hon. Members before me. One of the hon. Members has said that the Government has already taken steps and that the Chief Minister has promised that the produces of the border areas will be taken by the Government at subsidised rates. But, Sir, this will not help to ease the situation (interruption) ...
Mr. Speaker : At least it will help to a little extent.
Shri Hopingstone Lyngdoh : But, Sir, the problem that the border people are facing cannot be solved by merely providing transport but by finding market for the produce. Closure of the border trade but by finding market for the produce. Closure of the border trade directly and immediately affects the economy of the area. The problem that the border people have been facing all along the border because of the partition of India and Pakistan is still there. As a matter of fact, the Government of India have spent crores and crores of rupees for relief of our people in the border areas of Khasi Hills alone. Once we can find market for the produces, the economic problem of the border people will be solved. It is not necessary at all to give Transport subsidy up to Shillong but to markets of the products. So, Sir, instead of the Government proposing to take the produces at subsidised rates to Shillong, Government must and market in places like Gauhati and Calcutta, and give the subsidy of transport upto the destination. If this is done, it will help the border people. With these few words, Sir, I resume my seat.
Shri S.P. Swer (Sohra S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, this problem is not a new problem. It is a problem since the partition of this country. For the last 25 years, as stated by hon. Member who has spoken just now before me, crores of rupees have been spent by the Government of India to revive the shattered economy of the border areas but still this problem has not yet been solved, and it is still a gigantic problem that is yet to be solved. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a fact - and I fully agree with the hon. Members who have spoken before me - that the closure of the recent border trade has affected the economic condition of our border people. But as a man who is very close to the border I have had occasions to visit the border hats and I find that it is incorrect to say that the people in the border areas are facing starvation. I find that in certain areas the people refuse to take even the Fair Price rice supplied by fair-price shops.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : May we know the area ?
Shri S.P. Swer : You will find these areas in the Cherra region. So, Sir, to say that the border people are facing starvation or dying of starvation is not correct. I cannot agree. But to say that the economic condition of the people has been reduced to nothing of course, I entirely agree because of the closure of the border trade. But, as a matter of fact, we have had no trade with the erstwhile East Pakistan for the last 24/25 years. The Government of India had unilaterally opened some hats and we do not know that the erstwhile East Pakistan Government has agreed to do the same. But so long the trade is not in the form of proper trade but my smuggling ...
Mr. Speaker : When you said that the Government of India have signed a trade agreement, then it is not smuggling.
Shri S.P. Swer : I do not mean opening up of a border trade but I mean border hat. At that time, we see that this Border Trade Agreement with Bangladesh, was signed and when it was published and when we had in our hands, we tried to study it and one who is familiar with the problems of the border areas, can say that this agreement will not be workable. It is true today that there was closure of the border trade within 16 kilometres and what I feel is this that since the problem is chronic one, it is not easy to solve it.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Mr. Speaker, Sir, the hon. Member has said that it is a chronic problem and also he said that the people have refused to take rice as they have got better food than rice.
Mr. Speaker : You may eat whatever items of food you like, may be better quality rice or coarse rice.
Shri S.P. Swer : You see when I say the economic condition of the border people, I do not mean that a man lives on rice alone but he needs other amenities and necessaries of life, therefore, I cannot say that the economic condition of the people has improved. What I mean is that the people should also get some necessaries for life. I know that the Government is seriously thinking of taking of taking up all economic schemes. It is not fact that only after the hartal of 10th November that the schemes were brought out by the Government.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot : Mr. Speaker, Sir, may we know how many schemes have been brought out ?
Mr. Speaker : That you can ask the Minister for his reply.
Shri S.P. Swer : When I say economic schemes, I mean those schemes which may be taken up by the Government for the produces of the border people. I know that the Government will take up very soon one scheme which we know i.e., the manufacture of cinnamon oil from our tez-patta leaves. These leaves are generally grown in the border area and you know it is a difficult ask to transport these leaves to some other places. In the pre-partition days, and even after partition days, and even after partition, these leaves were transported and sold to East Pakistan now Bangladesh. If this economic scheme is taken up than the growers of these leaves will find a market and sell their tezpatta leaves to some factories within the border area or within the State itself. I entirely agree with Mr. H.S. Lyngdoh when he said that it is of no use to give subsidy or loans to those people without finding the market for their produce. I think it is for the Government to find market for such produces. We know, for the last 25 years, various schemes have been drawn up and implemented through the Blocks in the Border areas with special consideration for the border areas. They were of no help to the people. So I would suggest that intensive economic schemes be drawn up and implemented for the border areas so that their produces would not be left unsold but be transported to other places even to foreign countries and to find a market for them both inside and outside the State itself. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not agree with the hon. Mover who moved the two Motions that the people in the border areas are dying of starvation and I suggest that doles in the form of cash and rations are not necessary at the moment. Therefore, I oppose the suggestion in the Motion.
Shri D.N. Joshi (Shillong Cantonment) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I fully associate myself with Mr. Pohshna, Mr. Mawlot and Prof. M.N. Majaw in their Motion. After the partition of the country, once a very prosperous people of the border were reduced to destitutes and it had its bad impact on the border people of Khasi, Jaintia and Garo Hills. Now, Sir, for these 25 years whatever help was made by the Government of Assam to give relief and to bring up the economic conditions of the border people, was very in adequate as compared to the needs and necessity of those people. Now with the emergence of Bangladesh, a silver-lining in the cloud was seen in the horizon. When the Border Trade was opened, for some time our people were very hopeful that the problem of the border would be solved to a great extent. Unfortunately, the Trade Agreement that was signed between India and Bangladesh come to a sudden stoppage. It was at the initiative of the Government of Bangladesh, I feel, that this Trade Agreement was suspended for want of proper, I feel, that that this Trade Agreement was suspended for want of proper checking on smuggling on both sides. Now, as the hon. Members have expressed that there there is starvation and that the people are suffering and that have to live on wild roots and wild vegetables, it is indeed a horrible State of affairs. It is not only a problem of the State of Meghalaya, but I feel it is a national problem in which one of the State of Meghalaya, but I feel it is a National problem in which one of the hon. Members has stated that this was a problem of high magnitude and as such this problem is a national problem. When the people from across the border came over to our country as refugees, crores of rupees were spent by our benign Government and the Government of India and also our poor State of Meghalaya had to bear a good amount to give relief to those unfortunate brethren. We did it in a sense that good relation will emerge out of good attitude towards them. We find that the Government of India have tried their level best to improve the situation and to bring about healthy and cordial between the two Governments so that normalcy will prevail and thereby, the people in the border will get much help. But up till now, nothing tangible has come out. In spite of the best efforts of the Government of India to improve the relations with our neighbours across the border, there is still a great effort to be made to make the condition congenial for the free flow of it seems trade. Nor Sir, since our people are suffering very badly and since this is a national problem as well as a problem of the Government of Meghalaya, let us try to present a correct picture of the problems to the Government of India so that the people who were gradually suffering can get more relief through relief works thereby diminishing their pitiable plight. This will give life and vitality for their survival and for the development of their day-to-day life. Now, Sir, closure of the border markets has put our people in great difficulties because they do not have any alternate market for their products. Therefore, it is the duty of the Government to find out markets and that may be with the Bangladesh Government or with the Government of Bhutan or elsewhere.
Mr. Speaker : The hon. Member is repeating the same points.
Shri D.N. Joshi : I mean markets and such avenues for their produce and I hope this will go a long way in giving them good source of livelihood. Now Sir, there are produces like betel-nuts, pan leaves, pineapples, oranges and other things in our State. So our Government must see that plants are installed there to preserve them till they are sold out to their respective markets by our Government or till they are removed from their respective places to the markets created by the Government of Meghalaya. Now for the purchase of their produces on the State basis, Government should have Agencies to purchase the products of these place for marketing these goods elsewhere. So something tangible should be done so that our people do not die of starvation and our children do not suffer for want of food or money to develop themselves physically and educationally. It is nor a question of dying only physically but it is also a question of dying morally. If such State of affairs is allowed to continue time will come when a section of the people of the border will deteriorate physically and morally to such an extent that they will feel very much frustrated and let down. With these few words, I once again associate myself with the movers of the Motion.
* Shri Humphrey Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not want to repeat what the hon. Members have already spoken. But, Sir, it is surprising enough for me to some of the remarks of the hon. Members who said that starvation can be proved only on the basis of medical reports. Sometimes the hon. Member did not see that he has got the medical report with himself. This is a natural disease and so, Sir, no medical report is necessary because by experience, we can easily know that a man with sufficient food also may die at any time My hon. friend has said that this is an old problem. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, to me this not an old problem I think the Motion as it stands, is only concerned with the problem of the border of Meghalaya after the creation of Bangladesh. So I would request my hon. friend to take it that it is a problem only after the creation of Bangladesh.
Mr. Speaker : It may be a relapse of the old chronic disease.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Anyway, considering and anticipating good relationship, as our Chief Minister said, "I do not want to discuss all the anti-national slogans raised outside the State." I do not know whether intelligence reports about them have reached the Government by this time. But, as the position stands now, our people in the border are not badly affected economically and we can easily prove it. I have found myself that people in the Dawki area come from the interior places - about 85-90 kilometers away-to find market and to sell their produces. They came even to my villages where they usually sold at a very low rate. It is a shame that our own people have to suffer when there is somebody to administer and look after economic conditions of the people.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, these people cannot expect to get even the controlled rice from the fair-price shops. I do not know where all this quantity of rice goes which has been sanctioned for this area. As has been stated by my hon. friend, about the scarcity of rice released to these areas go ? The quotas of rice have been litted but they do not reach the places for which they have been allotted. So, Sir, I think it is not good and proper to say that there is not economic hardship in the border areas.
Shri K.M. Roy Marbaniang : They did not lift the quotas.
Mr. Speaker : He did not mark your point. He marked the point raised by Mr. Swer.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Mr. Speaker, Sir, if that be the case, I want to request the hon. Members at least to request the Government to enhance the quota of rice etc. allotted to those people who are really in need. Probably they are not living by bread alone ....(laughter) .....
Speaker, Sir, I want to stress this point of insecurity this point of insecurity of our people living in the border areas.
The other day, I met the head-man of Dawki who told me that at present there are about 500 Bangladesh people inside Dawki itself and I do not know whether the Government had taken any step on this. Further, Sir, today after the Question Hour, we came to know some facts from the Calling Attention Motion. I want to know whether the Government is well aware of this position, because who knows, Sir, when we are thinking about the insecurity un the border areas, it may be that we may be more insecure in other parts and in the State itself. It was learnt, Mr. Speaker, Sir, that the Deputy Commissioner even issued Citizenship Certificates to the new comers to our State without waiting and receiving any instruction from the Government. If that is case, what will be the fate of the State. therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in view of the economic hardship of the people in the border areas and in view of so many evils that may crop up even inside the State, I would request the Government to take immediate steps. It has also been; learnt from hon. Members of the House that there have already been some schemes prepared by the Government. But I wonder why those schemes have not been placed on the table of the House, so that House may give some suggestion to them. So, Sir, I would like to request the Government to take the House into confidence in all plans for the future, development of our people living in the border areas. I want also, at the same time, to point out to the Government that those schemes, if there be, are only long term measures. Cinnamon factory, this factory and other factories are only long-term scheme. What we want are the schemes for immediate relief of the distressed people.,
Mr. Speaker :- We want both.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- So. Sir, with these few words, I fully support the Motion by the hon. Member.
Mr. Speaker :- The Minister-in-charge of Trade to reply.
Mr. Stanley D.D. Nicholas-Roy (Minister, Trade) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Motion moved by the three Members concerned deals with a very important subject, the distress of our people in the border following the suspension of the border trade. We all remember how we anticipated and hoped and looked forward to the establishment of the friendly country on our borders. We were very happy that on the 20th of March, 1972, the Minister of Foreign Trade, Government of India entered into a trade agreement between India and Bangladesh. This trade agreement dealt with two aspects-one of regular trade which went through the Export-Import Regulations, etc., and the other aspect relates to the direct trade between the people of both sides of the border about 8 kilometres from each border. Because of the nature of the trade, certain formalities had to be completed and it was not very long after these formalities were completed and the border trade was starting to flow again that the Government of Bangladesh requested the Government of India to suspend the border trade. We were taken aback and we were very much disturbed when we saw the newspaper report and immediately, as incharge if this border trade, I took certain steps. First, I contacted our representative in Parliamentary by telephone to take up the matter with the Minister of Foreign trade so that our border may be treated as a special case. After a couple of days, our own Chief Minister arrived Delhi and I informed him about the situation and requested him to contact the Minister of Foreign Trade in Delhi. Discussions were held by the Chief Minister with Minister, Foreign Trade in New Delhi that our border should be treated as a special case and some special Government of India and from the 11th of October, 1972 the border trade was closed. Following that, I called a meeting of various authorities who looked after the border like the Police, B.S. F. representatives and the Customs, etc., to find out to what extent there was actually smuggling in the border between Bangladesh and Meghalaya because I wanted to confirm whether actually any smuggling took place on our border. The information of all the representatives of three authorities and our own Deputy Commissioner and other officers confirmed my own information that smuggling did not take place on the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border and according to newspapers and other informations, smuggling took place in other areas and not between Meghalaya and Bangladesh and therefore, it confirms my approach that our State d\should be treated separately from the case of other border State. I then took up the matter officially with the Union Minister for Foreign Trade and the Minister of External Affairs one Minister of Home Affairs and suggested that at least between Meghalaya and Bangladesh the arrangement as existed in 1967-71 may be allowed to continue in which traders were allowed to come to our border markets on market days which is generally twice a week. In each market in the morning by taking permission through the border outpost the people from the other side of the border were allowed to come and return after selling their goods and buying our articles according to the prescribed list. This was arrangement fight from the year 1967 upto 1971. When the Prime Minister came to Shillong, the cabinet of our State Government met her and discussed this matter with the her. We have also handed over a note to her based on same suggestion. The Government of India is taking up this matter with the Bangladesh government suggesting that the border trade be allowed to continue in a restricted manner along the line of 1967-71. So far as the re-opening of border trade is concerned we will continue to request the Government of India to reopen this matter with the Bangladesh Government Anything that has come out with the stoppage of border trade was the result on considerable economic difficulties of our people. We have started preparing plans for the relief of the border people and we have requested the Deputy Commissioners to prepare schemes to test-relief work of the affected areas of the border and to strengthen the machinery for supply of essential commodities by setting up more fair price shops if necessary and so on and so forth. In addition to this, after examining the matter, the Government has come to a decision to take up schemes to assist in marketing the border produces. Now, as has been mentioned by some of the hon. Members, marketing of the border produce is not a new one, it is an old one that the Government of Assam before us and the Government of India had tried to deal with over since the partition days. It is not so easy to market some of the produce border areas because it is not easy to find out ready markets. In this connection, there are some ling term schemes which the Meghalaya Government has been pursuing Trade is a long term problem especially of finding ready markets for some of these products. One scheme had been mentioned by the hon. Members from Cherrapunjee, the utilization of Tezpata leave to produce cinnamon oil. It is a continuing scheme and it is going to be implemented very soon. In addition to this, there is a large scale fruit preservation scheme. the fruit preservation scheme is taken up for preservation of pine-apples, oranges and other fruits of the border areas and of the whole State. But so far the utilization for another main border product, Pan-leaves is concerned, neither the Government before us nor this State Government can think of any other way of utilising it except by trading it through the existing markets as they use to do it now. Therefore, one of the first things to be considered is the transport of the border produce to the other existing markets of Shillong and Tura being the centre of all the districts and Jowai we think the District headquarter would be the first market place where some of the products can be sold. The Government, therefore, decided to transport this border produce to these three centres in the initial stage, but it does not restrict the transport subsidy of this area alone but decided that in my case the existing transport subsidy should also be considered for sale of the products to areas outside our State also. Some of the Members have questioned that the existence of this transport subsidy which they say is not necessary to give them subsidy to transport those products up to Shillong, Tura and Jowai. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to differ. From our own conclusion in order to make the products more saleable it is the cost of transport which stands in the way and the Government coming to the help of the people in the border would make it easier to sell those products in Shillong and elsewhere, and as I said, we have not restricted the transport subsidy to Shillong, Jowai and Tura. In addition to this, we have decided to strengthen the economic marketing unit in the Agriculture department which needs to be properly organised to try to find alternative markets for some of the products which are not to try to find alternative markets for some of the products which are not readily saleable. But for some of the products like pine-apple it is readily saleable except in certain areas. So these are the two main products which we have to re-established markets. We are to transport the products of the border to the main centres of markets and other places so that they will be able to sell the products in other parts of the State and the country. Now, at the same time, the Government of Meghalaya has continued to take up with the Government of India some long term measures. The functioning of an integrated programme for then economic rehabilitation of the border area is long term programme which has been taken up right from the beginning. We hope that these measures will go a long way towards solving the problems of the people living in the border area. I fully sympathise with the people we live on the border and all the problems they have faced and I appreciate the remarks made. We are looking forward to improve the relationship between the people of our State and the people of Bangladesh but it is no use making recriminating remarks on this. Of course some problems have cropped up but we will have to put our heads together to tackle them. The question of trade which will solve the problem of the people on the border has to be looked at from both aspects - that of the Government of Bangladesh and our Government. We have to go through Delhi and approach the Government of another country but we all know that the Government itself is quite friendly to our country in the matter of trading to prevent the problem it arrived after the trade is opened. We are told that smuggling has taken place from border areas and the stoppage of the border trader was done to stop smuggling. Precaution from both sides of the border were imposed to see that the smuggling is to be checked and controlled. The hon. Member from Mawhati had made important suggestions that we should allow the people from the border to carry on with border trade. It is correct that the regular trade has not been suspended. They allowed the people to trade and anyone who has come forward to do this trade is encouraged by help from our Government and the Government of India but there are certain items which were not on the list of the regular trade agreement. We have suggested to the Government of India that we would like to have some of these items on the regular trade list.
Mr. Speaker : The Minister will continue in the afternoon. The House stands adjourned till 12 p.m.
The House met at 2.00 p.m. with the Mr. Deputy Speaker in the Chair.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : The Minister of Trade and Commerce to continue his reply.
Shri S.D. Nichols Roy (Minister of Trade and Commerce) : I have outlined some of the steps that the Government have decided upon so far as relief of the borders is concerned and also the steps that have been taken to try to get the border trade resumed which we will continue to press. I do believe that this is a temporary phase and that eventually when steps are taken by the Government of Bangladesh our border trade will be resumed.
Now, I would like to refer to some of the points raised by the two Members. It is regarding the supply taken by the Government of Meghalaya to the Government of Bangladesh of the ballies and timbers for housing materials. This is an aid scheme which has been given by the Government of India and we are only implementing it on behalf of the Government if India to aid the people of Bangladesh is getting enough materials for their houses. I do not agree that we should stop this just because the border trade has been stopped as there seems to be some hint and suggestion along these lines. But this is also to assist some of our people, some of whom got some sort of employment for the supply of timers and ballies and other forest products. But it was an agreement for aid to the people of Bangladesh by the Government of India arrived at some time back and actually it has nothing to do with the border trade as such. One of the Members suggested that since Government was doing this we should allow the people to carry on this trade. So far as regular trade is concerned we do allow our people to undertake this trade provide they meet the various requirements, and our Government will assist anyone who is prepared to undertake this trade and we are pursuing the matter. Regarding the other items we have already sent to the Government of India and we are pursuing to have further additional items which would be expected to come through border trade channel. We have now asked that these items be included in the regular trade. Now, the hon. Member, Prof. martin Narayan Majaw had drawn our attention to something about the distress of Ryngku and he said there are starvation deaths. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, there is no report from the Block Development Officer of that Block regarding any starvation death. We have enquired from the Deputy Commissioner about it and there is no report though there is a report of acute distress in some of the areas. Cash Scheme has already been taken up for Ballat to Ryngku at a cost of Rs. 30,000. There is also a test relief Scheme at Rs. 25,000 which has been recommended and this is going to be decided soon. The S.D.P.O. visited the area on 22nd November, 1972 and there was no report at all from any quarter about starvation death.
Mr. Death Speaker, Sir, Mr. Pohshna mentioned about security aspect of our people going by boat from Dawki to Pyrdiwah. This was also brought to my attention by some people some days back, last week and I requested the D.C. to take it up with his counterpart in Bangladesh so that our people would not be obstructed when they go by boat along the river.
( Shri Pohshna - What about yesterday's incident ) ?
Shri S.D. D. Nicholas Roy (Minister of Trade and Commerce) : No information about the incident yesterday. I am not as pessimistic as Shri Pohshna where he said that our suggestion has excited before and will not be accepted. I have some hopes. But I believe that it will be implemented and we are pressing for implementation by both the Government, Bangladesh and India.
Regarding compensation for properties damaged or lost during the 1971 difficulties and influx of the refugees. This is long pending. So far we understand there have been some assurances that compensation would be made available and we are still awaiting for a final decision from the Government of India. As request has been made that the Chief Minister should acquaint the Government of India with the problem of the border people. We have already done this and we will continue to do this from time to time and we may rest assured that our Government will not sit idle, as we have not done so in the past, in the face of the difficult period for the people in the border. Now I would like to reply to the suggestions made by Prof. Majaw in moving this Motion, namely, air-dropping of free ration. Air-dropping is resorted to only in the last stage when the normal supply by surface transport cannot be made available throughout the year. Therefore, we do not need to go in for air dropping which is very costly and may even go astray as air-dropping supplies go sometimes in other areas because the accuracy is not as good as it should be. The question of air-dropping does not arise if only we can get the supplies to the people by surface transport. To Ryngku we can also get the supplies by surface transport, by jeeps or by head load. This will be done as it has been done in the past. This will be done in the past. It is only when the roads are completely not jeep able that air-dropping is resorted to. So far as distribution of cash doles is concerned, it is extremely difficult to know who are deserving the cash doles and who are not. At this stage, the Government is not convinced that the stage has been reached where the people need cash doles. Rather we are paying attention to the marketing of the produce so that the people can depend on their own economy. Only we have to help them transporting the produce and try to find alternative markets, and this, I believe, is a far better way of tackling the problem than mere distribution of cash doles. The suggestion of purchasing all border produced by the Government is not acceptable. But we are tackling the problem in certain areas by assisting in marketing and giving free transport up to the main centres by assisting in marketing giving free transport up to the main centres of the State and even to some of the centres outside the State. The Government has not enough funds or the machinery to purchase all the produce. But it will assist in Marketing of various produces. The Member from Mawhati has pleaded that one should not yield to unreasonable suggestion as made by some body in Bangladesh which may lead to the Government as made by somebody in Bangladesh which may lead to the Government yielding to other unreasonable suggestions. These are arguments which actually do not meet our case. This is the matter of something dealing with a foreign Government. This is purely an argument by analysis. Whether this is actually so or not we cannot say. But I do not think that the Government of Bangladesh will wait until the election is over to tackle this problem and we hope that they will respond when approached by our representatives in the Government of India.
The suggestion made by one of the Members - I think he is Mr. Joshi - that plants should be installed in our State to preserve the various produce of the border and then he marketed elsewhere. Then, as I said earlier, long term schemes have already been prepared some times ago and are in the process of being implemented fairly soon so that we can utilise our border produce in processing and can market them elsewhere. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I can appreciate the very strong feelings of the Members who have spoken and the Government itself is very much disturbed by the situation in the border. But we do not despair ; we think that problem can be solved. It is temporary phase that we are trying to tackle it to the best of our ability. We request the co-operation of all the Members, particularly those in the borders to give us the information. The information we have received from the Members will be looked into particularly those dealing with the security which has been brought to our attention by the Member this morning. I would finally appeal them to recognise that this is not totally within our control. As a matter of fact, as was mentioned by one of the Members, it is an international problem, and, therefore we have to tackle it by bringing it to the attention of the Government of India and we will continue to do so. Now, I shall leave the part dealing with the security angle to the Chief Minister.
* Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, in the first instance, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Members who have given us this opportunity to discuss about the problems in our borders through Motions. Let us, in the first instance, remember that we are born with various problems ; without problems life will become dull. And we must have courage to face these problems by putting our heads together to find a solution. But from practical experience it is found sometimes we ourselves create problems and we ourselves create difficulties to find solution. Therefore, there should be one basic approach from all corners since we are bound to come across a number of problems ; genuine problems - problems created not by somebody's own choice. But problems which cannot be prevented in spite of our best desire to avoid such problems. When such problems came it is no use trying to find fault with somebody else. When it is recognized problem - problem which has been brought before us not because of somebody's creation, then the only attractive would be to put our needs together to find a solution. I do not agree that these problems which we are facing to-day are the consequences of the emergence of Bangladesh. I must make it very clear that cannot accept that suggestion when somebody wanted to discuss the problems of the border areas which have been created because of the emergence of Bangladesh. I have full confidence, as has been indicated by my colleague, that this problem is not going to be permanent problem. This problem is there ; but it is not because of the emergence of emergence of Bangladesh. This border problem was there before Bangladesh came into existence. I would say, it is a problem created by the partition of the country because we had to face this problem as a result of the partition of the country. But there is a great expectation that with the emergence of Bangladesh it will be easier to solved this problem by having good relationship with Bangladesh. Let us try to examine whether we can without hesitation for a moment , blame that the liberation of Bangladesh has brought the problem as if the problem was not there. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I myself was born and brought up in the border area. As pointed out by Mr. Joshi, there was a time before the partition of the country, when the border people were the most advanced people, economically, culturally and socially. I should say that there was a High Power Commission which was appointed by the Government of India to study the problem of the border areas and to suggest as to what measures can be taken to meet this problem. The Committee was convened. It is only by building up roads to create alternative markets that this border economic problem can be solved. It was also realised, I should not misunderstood, that a few leaders were available in the Hill Areas specially in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills because they hailed from the border areas. That is why I said there was a time when border was very advanced than the rest of the State. A question was put. Is it a fact that Baghmara is to Tura as Shella is to Shillong ? This was referred to our great leader, late Rev. J.J. M. Nichols-Roy, we all know about it Therefore, it pains me, it pains everybody that a place which has once flourished now had to suffer. I do not say it is the result of the emergence of Bangladesh, but it is because of certain facts that I have already said. We were seized of the problem. This problem has been tackled in different ways at different times. While I was Minister of Tribal Areas in the Government of Assam, I was very much seized of the problem and initiated certain schemes for the economic rehabilitation of the border people. I think the hon. Members, Mr. Pohshna and Mr. Hadem may remember. but unfortunately, the scheme which was meant to help the people could not really be implemented for various reasons. The Scheme had its own difficulty.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of information. Do we take that it is not because of the emergence of Bangladesh but because of the partition of the country.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Well, Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I will come to that. May I also seek information form the hon. Members who had accordingly discussed this problem whether they will agree with me that this problem is a continuous problem. Is it not a problem as a result of the partition of the country ? Of course , it was expected that with the emergence of Bangladesh, this problem would be solved. But it is a fact that this problem was created by the partition of the country and not with the emergence of Bangladesh. I will just say that this problem was there at the beginning and we are trying to solve it at different times with different schemes. The scheme which was entrusted to me while I was Minister-in-charge of Tribal Affairs in Assam was that it would give relief to the people but it did not. May be the scheme was not taken up but at the same time, I think we shall all agree that whatever scheme was made available to them was not properly utilised by the people themselves. We know we could find market for the perishable produces, cash crops which used to have an easy market in an undivided country in East Bengal. Therefore, we though we should switch over to non-perishable cash crops. We started cashew nuts and black pepper plantations ; we encouraged coffee, rubber etc., plantation and so on and so forth and for regeneration of the gardens we give each family a grant of Rs. 450. It was paid in two installments. the first installment was given Rs. 225 and after we had the report that the family have utilised the first installment, then the second installment was released. But I found that only very few families have utilised the grants for the purpose for which they were sanctioned. We used to depend for the supply of poultry and other goods from across the border. We had drawn up a scheme to encourage the families in the border to go for poultry, piggery, cattle rearing but we will find that our people complained that they were not getting chickens eggs or dry fish from across the border. These schemes are being taken up to encourage the people and lakhs of rupees have been spent for giving subsides. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, therefore you will agree with me that the Government, at different levels, was very much seized of the problem. It is not only because of the hartal on the 10th of this month, as claimed by my hon. friend, Prof. Majaw. I must rule put that it is only because of the hartal the Government was aware. Let us be realistic; let us be honest. But in spite of these things if we cannot help the border people to-day, my friends opposite and also from this side should come forward with some concrete proposal. But whatever schemes and programme drawn up for the economic rehabilitation of the borer people by the previous Government did not help the border people much. Now we would welcome if some concrete proposals and schemes are put forward to mitigate the problem which we are facing to-day squarely. We are determined to find out a proper solution. A few schemes interim schemes - which have been prepared by this Government were brought before the House. I do not want to repeat them. I cannot say whether this will really help the border people. One thing I must remind that whatever we try to do will not solved the problem without the reopening of the border trade. So there is no other alternative but to create alternative markets for the border produces. Therefore, a scheme has been taken up to bring about a competitive market for border produces. But for that we must provide free transport. Now about the agencies for the market produces, we are enquiring different Agencies. In the first instance, we will allow usual trade channels. We will also have some other agencies. But while the usual trade channels or some other agencies would provide free transport, it should be ensured that the products get the minimum price. Therefore, when we have taken up the matter, we have instructed the Deputy Commissioners in consultation with the local border leaders that we must be able to fix the minimum price for the produces which will be marketed. So I thought that since the matter is of emergent nature, it would be discussed in the House and some concrete proposals or suggestions would be forthcoming. But it appears to me that they were merely criticising what the Government has done. Nobody could offer any suggestions on it.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification, may I ask when the detailed schemes were not circulated to us how we can make comments ?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Well Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, they could have made suggestions or sought clarification in course of reply made by my colleague, the Minister-in-charge of trade or from the Chief Minister about the details of the scheme. For example I am very grateful to my hon. friend, Mr. Pohshna, who has complimented me by saying - "our Chief Minister is very sincere about the problem of the border". But I must say that if my Government is not sincere how alone I can be sincere and honest. It is the Government as a whole. Therefore, this should be a compliment for the Government as a whole.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna (Nongtalang S.T.) : It seems you are imperfect.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Well I agree that I am not a perfect man. I wish a man who is perfect should lead me, help me to lead a perfect life. Then though I am not a perfect man, I never try to twist the things. I try to be, as far as possible, straightforward and frank. Now Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I am indeed very grateful to the hon. Members who said that they are equally seized of the problem. We have had an interim scheme for immediate implementation, as my colleague pointed out, to bring about economic rehabilitation of the border people. In fact, these schemes are being scrutinised by the Ministry of Planning, Government of India and by various Departments. We are trying to expedite the matter but they also never expected that such schemes would come up after the emergence of Bangladesh. For sending the essential commodities to the fair price shops we have approached the Government of India to continue the transport subsidy. This Transport subsidy will also have to be provided for transporting the border produces to the market. Normally, the term of the transport subsidy will also have to provide for transporting the border produces to the market. Normally, the term of the transport subsidy will be allowed up to December. Now December is coming. So we have approached the Government of India for revival of the transport subsidy since the border trade has been suspended. These are the things which sometimes, in spite of our best desire, stand in the way of implementation. Therefore, I have a feeling now that we should not be definite about the resolution.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, about the security of the border area, I agree to the view of Mr. Hadem. But I am not afraid about the security because of the border on Bangladesh. I am more worried about the internal security. If with your co-operation we cannot help the people in the rehabilitation of the economy in the border areas, there will be greater problems of security. So we are fully aware of the problem today and we are going up and doing. Stray cases will take place not only the border but also inside the State. But because of these stray cases or incidents we should not come to the conclusion that there is a problem of security. I agree there were some incidents which took place among the Bangladesh border. But even when the previous Pakistan Government has control of Bangladesh such incidents had taken place. However, it is always the obligations of the Government to maintain security along the border. For the information of the hon. Member I can tell that in the Khasi Jaintia Hills we have got 24 Border Security Posts. We have got 2 passport Check Posts, one at Dawki and another at Bholaganj. We have got 6 Anti-infiltration posts in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills. In Garo Hills we have got 17 BSF posts and then Passport Check Posts and Anti-infiltration Posts 4 in Garo Hills. It is a fact, as stated by Mr. Pohshna, that some incidents had taken place in which it has been correctly reported that our man was shot dead. We have been trying to get the exact information from across the border and the Dy. Commissioner, Jowai, has received a lot of correspondences about it. But from the letter received from the D.C., Sylhet, it was stated that these gentlemen who were found along with one Bangladesh National - were smuggling something. That is what we have been informed by the Bangladesh District Authority. They were taken inside the border under custody. I am telling you just what we have been told by the D.C. Sylhet. These gentlemen were trying to escape and the army opened fire but, unfortunately, there was no trace of the dead body. However, even the D.C., Sylhet, did not rule out that the men had not been killed and according to him the bodies were not found.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : I take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to inform the Chief Minister that we have got eye-witness who have given evidence to the D.C., Jaintia Hills. If they are allowed to go, they will be able to locate the place where the dead bodies were buried.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : I will ask the D.C. Jowai. In fact, the matter is still being pursued; it is not closed to us to suggest to our counterparts, if they are anxious to find the bodies, they may take our friends from this side to show the place. However, it is not the forum where we can discuss the correctness or the incorrectness of the report received from the Bangladesh District Authority. Now in a similar way, three women are still under the custody of the Police. According to the Bangladesh District Authority, it is alleged, these 3 ladies were also engaged in smuggling and that when these were taken to under Police custody they gave the names which did not tally with the names sent by our D.C. But it is presumed that these are the same ladies. Now, as far as the arrest of the persons is concerned the matter is still under enquiry. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, similar incidents had taken place in the past but I do not agree that because of these stray incidence of shooting and kidnapping the security of the border areas is insecure. About the last incident, I had a telephone message last night and I have repeatedly asked the D.C., Jowai, to contact them and I am still awaiting the reply on this. However, these (interrupted).
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Why not the D.C., Shillong ?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : If it was the D.C., Shillong, he would have done it. But when the massage came from Dawki, I thought it was under the jurisdiction of Jaintia District. Therefore, I asked the D.C. concerned. You see I gat the impression when the message reached me that it must have been there. Please excuse my poor knowledge of the geography of Khasi Jaintia Hills.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : What about the other man who was shot dead ? His dead body was demanded by the people. At least they can perform some religious rites.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Regarding that also an enquiry is being made and, in fact discussion has taken place between our D.C. and D.C., Sylhet, and the matter is being pursued. We have lodged a strong complaint through the Government of India. As you know, we cannot do it directly. Secondly, when the Nepali Chowkidar had been killed, we have taken up with Delhi that a strong protest should be sent to the Government of Bangladesh. Of course, there is scope for the respective D.Cs. to see and discuss these problems and come to some settlement. That is being done by D.C. and also by the Border Security Authorities. But whatever matter relating to higher policy of both countries will be done through the Government of India and this matter has been taken into account and we have immediately requested the Government of India to take up this matter and also to prevent recurrence of such incidents in future. Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, as far as other issues that have been put before the House are concerned they have been dealt with by my colleague to touch upon the points relating to Security. I still feel that unless and until we are in a position to solve this border problem permanently it will be a very serious problem and I am fully aware and I am also fully convinced that it will not be desirable for our border people to leave their hearts and homes only because of their economic distress and shattered means of livelihood. For that purpose they will be compelled to seek elsewhere which does not sound good from the security point of view. So we must make sure that our people must live in their own hearths and homes in the border and I am definite that with the help and co-operation of the people and Members alike se shall be able to persuade the Government of India to give adequate means to assist us in their development programme. With these words, Sir, I thank the mover of the Motion and others who have participated and have given me an opportunity to share the sufferings of the border people. So let us put our heads together and see how we can proceed in bringing relief to those poor people both temporarily and permanently.
Shri Humphrey Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. We are told by the Minister-in-charge of Trade and Commerce that according to the report there is no smuggling from our State, and that the Government of India be requested to treat Meghalaya border as a special case and not as others. Now the statement made by the Chief Minister is that the people were smuggling. It is not clear to us which of the two statements is correct.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I said this is an allegation that these people have been arrested because of smuggling. So that allegation is there. But we cannot say that actually they were indulging in smuggling though it was admitted at least from our side that there are stray cases here and there. But generally speaking, smuggling has not taken place between Bangladesh and Meghalaya but it might have taken place elsewhere. That cannot be ruled out. Somebody said that the border constitutes one-third population of the population of the State. But it is actually one-fourth of the the total population of the State. So we cannot rely on the information that the Government is not in a position to be vigilant on the 25 percent of population of the State. But I am referring to this particular case as alleged by the authorities of Bangladesh.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : (Mawhati S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. It becomes a more pertinent because in the categorical statement of the Minister, Trade, there is smuggling and whatever happened in Bangladesh was not because of the Government of Bangladesh but because of people in the borer. But the officers of the Government of Bangladesh made a statement which is quite opposite to the statement made by the Chief Minister. So how can we take it ?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : My hon. friend, Mr. Pohshna said that there are eye-witness for the incident. Therefore, it is only an allegation that there were smugglers and only the eye-witness will be able to locate the place where the body was supposed to have been buried. So it is only they who will be able to tell us whether these smugglers were really engaged or not. This is the allegation made by the District authorities of the Government of Bangladesh. Therefore, it is correct what my hon. friend has said.
Shri S.D.D. Nichols-Roy (Minister, Trade and Commerce) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to add also that our officer report that there is no smuggling. It may be one or two cases which have not come to our notice but by and large, the report shows that there is no smuggling on our border. There might be smuggling in other sectors of the Indo-Bangladesh sector but not in Meghalaya sector.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of information, I would like to request them to give us a clarification that on the day of the occurrence itself, I think the Trade Agreement was suspended. As this was not notified to the people the people were going to the Jaflong market and so were taken as smugglers.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, about suspension of the border trade it will not be correct to say that the Government was slow to inform them. But the D.C., Jaintia Hills District has informed all the B.D.Os. Information was also given over Radio and local news-papers about the sudden closure of the border trade on the 28th October 1972. So they have informed earlier.
Shri H.S. Lyngdoh (Pariong S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for further clarification the Minister has said that the entire border of Khasi and Jaintia Hills was well guarded and is safe with the presence of so many armed forces posted there. But the feeling of the people is very insecure because of this very recent incident, especially when one Mr. Manner was murdered, and his dead body was not found. So both the dead bodies were not found. So, Sir, how can we accept the statement that the border people will be contented with presence of the Security Forces posted in the border.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would request the hon. Member to realise that if today throughout the whole length of Bangladesh and Meghalaya, some incidents would have taken place without any proper checking, I would have thought that the arrangements to guards our borders are not adequate. I said in Khasi and Jaintia Hills we have as many as 24 Check-posts. Up to this day, these incidents have been confined only to limited areas. Therefore, it will not be correct to say that the arrangements made for guarding our bodies through our Border security Forces and Police Forces, are not adequate. I have said that these forces will be increased in future to safeguard our borders adequately. Therefore, it is not correct to say that the security arrangement from our side will remain static.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Well Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, may we know what action has been taken by the Government in that particular limited area where certain amount of inadequacy is found ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, arrangements are being made all along the border and they are not confined only to any particular area. I think the hon. Member has brought this Motion in the interest of security alone. While some hon. Members have mentioned that this is not desirable in the interest of the public except in those areas which are openly known to our people, if proper arrangement is being made in those areas. I said it is desirable to maintain a good atmosphere periodical meetings on our border problem. Our security Forces are being advised to understand the difficulties of their counterparts on the other side.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. The report of the Chief Minister is not correct. Sir, incidents took place on the 18th October, 1972 in which Shri Manner was shot dead. But according to information given by the Chief Minister today, it was 20th October, 1972. Who is responsible for this ?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I have received the letter from the Deputy Commissioner of this side but from the other side I have no information.
Shri Blooming Shallam (Jowai S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, for the information of the Government since I understand that the enquiry will further be conducted in the matter of killing of one Shri Manners, I personally, went to Dawki the other day. Fortunately for me, I came to know that the man was not killed on 20th October, 1972. And on that same day, our hon. Chief Minister also visited those areas. We have seen people fleeing away from across the border. I was told that the killing took place on 18th October, 1972. The real reason for his killing was not in consistence with the report given by our Chief Minister, which was based on the Deputy Commissioner's report. According to the information of those people who have fled away from there, the person was beaten to death.
( Voices : Shame, Shame )
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is a fact that on whatever report we have got, the incident did not take place on our side. That happened inside Bangladesh itself. At the first instance, we have got this information from the Bangladesh Authorities, then from our Deputy Commissioner.
Mr. Deputy Speaker : Well, if the information is from that or this side an enquiry is being made. I think I have given sufficient time to the hon. Members to discuss. Now the debate is closed. Let us come not to Item No. 3, Motions.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, according to my understanding, resolutions are to be taken up in the afternoon and Motions in the morning.
Shri Edwingson Bareh (Minister, Revenue) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, according to the procedure Motions are taken up first and then resolutions will come. Motions will have first preference.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : But from the Calendar, it is obvious that the Motions will be taken up on the 31st and the 5th. I have discussion with the Speaker and he said that we will take up resolutions in the afternoon and this information has been communicated to all of us.
( At this stage Mr. Speaker took the Chair )
Mr. Speaker : This is a matter of convenience only. If we take up all Motions, there will be no time left for the resolutions on the same day. It is a question of convenience only. This was agreed to by the Business Advisory Committee to fix the time for Motions in the morning and resolution in the afternoon. There is no hard and fast rule that both Motions and resolutions can be taken up alternately.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, it is a fact that we have not hard and fast rule regarding this. But the Business Advisory Committee decided that we take up Motions in the morning and resolutions in the afternoon.
Mr. Speaker : There is no hard and fast rule. If the Government is not prepared today, they must come prepared on the next day. I think I must have the sense of the House in this respect.
Shri P. Ripple Kyndiah (Jaiaw S.T.) : We may have Motions in the morning and resolutions in the afternoon and there should be rigidity on this.
Mr. Speaker : We have fixed Motions in the morning and resolutions in the afternoon by an agreement in the Business Advisory Committee. Now, if we make any change to this, I think the whole hour will be required for Motions and we may not be able to complete one Motion in one particular session. Sometime, they are carried to the next session.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I take strong objection to the remarks made by Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw when he said that it was agreed by the Business Advisory Committee to take up Motions in place of resolutions. We were not informed that we will take up Motions in the morning and resolutions in the afternoon. Anyhow, the Government should have been given proper time for reply.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : But the Member of the Government is a Member of the Business Advisory Committee.
Mr. Speaker : There cannot be any debate on this. If there is any remark from the hon. Member from Mawhati, that the Government has not been informed, for that, the Home should not be blamed. My decision is rigid and my decision is only for the sake of convenience. I have already indicated that. If the Minister is not able to reply today, he can reply in the afternoon of the subsequently day fixed for Private Member's Business.
Shri Humphrey Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) : Mr. Deputy Speaker, Sir, I would like to raise a point of order. We have the hard and fast rule regarding the business of the day. It is the Rule 24 which says, "All business appointed for any day and not disposed of on that day shall stand over until the next day of the session available for business of the class to which it belongs."
I do not want to be partial. Since, according to the list of business, we are having the first Calling Attention Motion today and secondly, we are having a long list of Motions and we have not completed it, I do not think that we shall be able to go to the Resolutions if we are to stick to the rules. First we will have to complete the Motions and if we cannot complete today, we will have to continue in the next day. So, Sir, I would request that for today we cannot go beyond what has been fixed the day.
Mr. Speaker : I do not know whether the interpretation of the hon. Member regarding Rule 24 can be taken as correct. The meaning of the list of business cannot be taken in the light of today's engagement. If it is taken as the hon. Member contended, we have to finish all the Motions and then we can go over to the resolution.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : That is my contention.
Mr. Speaker : But the list of business here is a consolidated list for the whole Session and not specified for a particular day. had it been stated in this list for today as Motion No. 1, Motion No. 2 and so on, then would be specified.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Excuse me, Sir. It is specific. It is specific because we have Motion No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 and so on, then would be specific.
Mr. Speaker : That is only for the guidance of the Members. It is only when the list of business for a particular sitting is made specific, then, as it happened in the morning, when a Motion could not be disposed of it, was carried over to the afternoon session. When a particular item could not be disposed of in the morning, it has been carried over to the afternoon session. As I have said, this rule is not clear. So far as today's list of business, it is vague and not specific.
*Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, as a matter of convention, in the past, when it was thought that it would not be desirable to follow the order paper as listed, the sense of the House was asked. Thus, instead of going to the 2nd item, we go to the next item. Therefore, it is very correct as has been pointed out by Mr. Hadem. In Parliament, this paper is know as the Order Paper and according to the order paper we have proceed. There are, however, occasions when we do not exactly follow the list of business. This, of course, is done with the permission of the House. I think we should have been given some sort of information on this and the sense of the House should have been taken.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, if may doubt arises as to the interpretation of any provision of there rules, the decision of the Speaker shall be final. So, may I request the Hon'ble Speaker to help us to go ahead with the work and to give us a final decision.
Mr. Speaker : Prof. Majaw has asked me only to interpret the contents of Rule 24. So far as this rule is concerned, as I said, it is only when the list of business has been made specific that it can be said that we must follow according to order. Here, when we say Motion, it does not mean that we have to finish all the Motions, if there are 300 or one thousand Motions. Then there will be no occasion for the resolutions to be brought before the House. Therefore, many Members said that at least resolution must get the priority in the same manner as Motion and consequently, as I said, the Government, if they are not prepared to reply today, they may reply on the next day. So, let us take up Resolution No. 1 to be moved by Prof. Majaw.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw (Mawhati S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that this Assembly recommends to the Government of Meghalaya to request the President of India under the provisions of Article 347 of the Constitution of India to declare by notification the Khasi language to the Constitution of India to declare by notification the Khasi language to be the language that shall be used for all official purposes at the district level in the district of Khasi Hills and the Garo language that shall be used for all official purposes at the district level in the Garo Hills.
Mr. Speaker : Motion moved.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to point out right at the start that this subject which I have the privilege to bring before this House is a subject which should be tackled irrespective of party affiliations or political creeds. It is a matter which affects the overwhelming majority of the tribal people in this State and as I would request Members from all sections of the House to try to give their sympathetic outlook to this matter. Now, Mr. Speaker, Sir, Government, in the often repeated words of Abraham Lincoln, is of the people, by the people and for the people and in this democratic set-up we have today throughout the country, that is, India, the majority have a determined say in the governance and in the future of the country or the State. Here, Mr. Speaker, Sir, majority of the people are hill people. No doubt there is a very valued and important section, that is, non-tribals or non-hillmen. But since democracy is based on the will of the majority of the people and precisely for that reason our friends are sitting across us in the ruling benches. Therefore despite the very strong opposition in other matters also the will of the majority should reign supreme. Now when we started this demand for a separate Hill State many years ago when this demand was accelerated in the year 1960, when the A.P.H.L.C. party was set up the primary objective was to secure for the hill people a State of their own in which they may be able to determine their present and their future and for this the persons of the ruling party at that time, a mere political party, issued press notes an press-releases, sent many delegations to Delhi also to obtain for the hillman and equal place under the sun. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, this is not a communal approach. We must understand that the basis of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India is to secure protection and nourishment for a particular tribal people, the tribal way of life and cultural. Besides Mr. Speaker, Sir, seats are still being reserved far the State of ours although we have obtained a State of our own ; although there are States which are multi-lingual and multi-racial yet within the States there is reservation of seats for the scheduled tribes. Again Mr. Speaker Sir, Article 29 of the Constitution of India, Clause (1) States as such, that any section of the citizen residing within the territory of India or any part thereof having distinct language, scripts and culture of its own shall have the right of reservation of the same. Why do we have a special protection like the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, such as Article 29, for reservation of seats within the State where there are tribal people. It is, perhaps because of the fear that a time may come when the small tribal community with their unique culture may be lost and carried away by the floodgate of history or will remain letters in yellow photographs, museum specimens of our forgotten past. One of the dearest things held by man Mr. Speaker, Sir, among other things is language. The purpose of language is to communicate, in Latin they call 'communieura' logically, it would mean a union that comes through coming together through interchange but there is no sense in communication unless it is of two way traffic. If I talk to a deft man it would be an empty word, having no meaning or no sound to his ears, likewise talking to a deft man. Now the problem Mr. Speaker, Sir, is due to a poor standard of literacy in our State. In the three districts of Meghalaya the problem is one of communication between the people and the Government. At the highest level, no doubt, we have got the legislative Assembly with overwhelming majority of the hill communities. In the Government too we have got representatives belonging to the tribal communities. If you go down to the Secretariat of Meghalaya also today the overwhelming majority are from the hills. In the District level Mr. Speaker, Sir, we have overwhelming majority of the non-tribals working in the Government offices where the problem of communication between the Government officers and the simple illiterate tribal person lies. I had the occasion Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the last session. To put the question about the number of tribal and non-tribal employees in just one office under the Government of Meghalaya at the district level. That is the Shillong Division of P.W.D. I do not know, but for reasons best was sent to my home by post after the session was over. In that reply it has been shown that there are 55 tribal and 202 non-tribal employees in that particular office. That is one of the problems faced by the illiterate simple hill-tribal person. He cannot read or write and as such he cannot communicate his ideas is his needs in other languages. In order to communicate his needs he has to catch hold of a translator or the Government has to get a translator for the officers because the offices could not understand the language of the applicant. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, language is accepted as the basis for creation of all the States. In India in most cases the linguistic difference is the criterion for the creation of a State and on this ground the State of Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Orissa etc. was created and therefore the language of the State is the language of the majority though there are certainly minorities who perhaps do not understand the language, the official language of the State. That does not bar this Government to declare the language of the majority as the sole language of the State. Infact, one of the many occasions which brought about further acceleration for the demand of a separate Hill State is the declaration of Assamese language as the sole, official language of Assam though today there are a large number of persons who do not understand the Assamese language. I am not in any way belittling the importance of the minorities nor do I try to share the view whether the language spoken belongs to the minorities. In fact some of these languages have accrued international reputation because of various reasons. But there I have talking actually about the main problem which the simple Khasi is dealing with the officers at the district level. Officers in the Secretariat level, Mr. Speaker, Sir, do not come into contact with the poorest section or the smallest section or the direct section. But precisely here we see the failure or the success of the Government. Due to language problem the poorest villager at the district level could not communicate his needs, his heartfelt desires to his immediate officer above him. Then we may say that the Government has failed to give redress to the grievances of the people. Now Mr. Speaker, Sir, Meghalaya is one of the few States set up on a racial and geographical basis i.e., the Tribal people, or the Scheduled Tribal people living in these hill regions and in other parts as well. At the highest level, it would be very unfair to impose an particular language upon the entire State, but at the district level the overwhelming majority of the people come from one tribal race. There are certainly Mr. Speaker Sir, provisions in the constitution, whereby the language spoken by the majority of the people in that State can be declared by the President of India to be the official language of that region. Mr. Speaker Sir, Article 374 of the Constitution says that on a demand being made by a section of the people, the President, if he is satisfied, may declare that any language spoken by them be recognised by the State with regard to such language, although it will be officially recognised throughout the State as a State language. The Khasi language and the Garo language fulfill the requirements of Article 347, provide the Government of Meghalaya deems it proper and to make a request to the President of India to make such direction of declaration. I humbly submit Mr. Speaker, Sir, that there is a substantial number of persons speaking the district languages to satisfy this directive of Article 347, and I further also humbly submit that the two districts of U.K. J. Hills are also a part of that State. The same, Mr. Speaker, Sir applies to the Garo languages as the Garo district also is a part of this State. The language to be used for the entire State is the official language of the State. Now Mr. Speaker by using the Khasi language in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and by using the Khasi language in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills and by using the Garo language in the Garo Hills we shall be fulfilling the requirements of the constitution. The purpose that can be fulfilled by adopting the Garo language in the Garo Hills Districts will be first served. Then, firstly we will bring the administration closer to the people and secondly, it will solve the unemployment problem in this State. There are thousands of unemployed tribal youths, educated tribal youths who have not been able to find employment in the State. Even though there are a large number of colleges and schools in Shillong, the problem is not a recent one even in Garo Hills. Some of the hon. Members in the Legislature have made so many demands for the educated unemployed youth in Garo Hills by adopting the Garo language as the official language to be used for official purpose and by adopting the Khasi language to be used as the official language at the district level, we shall be solving the unemployment problem. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it did happen that the Assamese language was declared as the sole official language in that State. The Government of Assam is very likely to do so in the near future as hundreds of tribal people working under the Government of Assam will have to go away from Assam because of the implementation of the official language in the State of Assam. There are some people who are illiterate of this language and they will have no chance of getting employment there because their illiteracy will force them to give up their jobs. Perhaps a situation may arise and if that happens it may be unnecessary for us to provide employment to the thousands of unemployed tribal people in the State.
Mr. Speaker : Do you mean to say that the Government of Meghalaya may follow the policy of tit for tat ? Most of the tribal people in Assam will become illiterate overnight.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : They will become illiterate overnight. This may result in Meghalaya also for non-tribals but sometimes goodness comes out of evil and perhaps it might create thousands of vacancies for our unemployed tribal youths. Therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, I place this Resolution before the House for consideration by this House. I earnestly request that it may be approached from the non-partisan outlook. Let there be no politics in this. It is my tribal blood that flows in my veins as it flows in the veins of the Members of the Ruling Party and there would be no division in this respect. Mr. Speaker, Sir, I spoke with one mind, one heart and one blood.
Mr. Speaker : Any other hon. Member ?
Shri Salseng Marak (Resubelpara S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to oppose the resolution moved by the hon. Member from Mawhati. While opposing this resolution, I want to make some observations. In fact the regional languages are being used in the districts though not official but for convenience sake. Whenever common people approach and submit applications in their own language the officers in the district should send the applications to the district officers who serve in the district where the regional language is being used. Therefore I do not see the necessity of bringing this resolution to this House when the regional languages are being used though not officially in the districts. But Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the staff level if we have three regional languages the officers serving in different districts will find difficulty in the use of regional languages as our officers are required to serve anywhere in the State. Then the officers have to learn a lot of languages because it means that officers belonging to a particular district can only serve in that district only and not in the other districts.
Mr. Speaker : Garo Officers would have to learn Khasi and Khasi Officers would have to learn Garo.
Shri Salseng Marak : I will come to that. From the point of development, we are to see that we are to develop our State to bring it at par with other States in India. The use of such languages at present may sow the seed of disintegration in our State. Therefore in order to create a sense of oneness among us, to make better understanding among us, it would be our desire that instead of confining with their respective districts our officers are spread over in the different districts. That would mean, Garo officers would be serve in Khasi and Khasi and Jaintia officers would serve in Garo Hills and should learn their language. But at present I think this use of district language will not be feasible because we have to consider the issue from the State level, I therefore suggest that the English language should continue as an official language in the State level.
Mr. Speaker : In the District level or the State level. The resolution does not refer to the State level.
Shri Salseng Marak : What I said is that we have to consider that aspect also Sir, So with these few words, I oppose the resolution.
Shri Jormanick Syiem (Mylliem S.T.) : I also rise to oppose the resolution. Neither the Garo nor the Khasi nor the Jaintia language is in the list of the regional languages which can be declared as the official language either in the State or in the District. If it is for the district, it is for the district councils concerned to adopt any resolution of this kind. The hon. Member who moved this resolution has referred .....
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I may be allowed to interrupt. On a point of information, if the State Government accepts the resolution, then under Article 347 the President can declare even the district language as the official language and thereby also recognise as the official language throughout that State or any part therein in the District.
Shri Jormanick Syiem : The resolution if introduced in this House which may be the State Legislature that will be the resolution for a State language. The hon. Member has referred to Art. 29. I am not a constitutional lawyer, but I think it is not competent to introduce any language for official purpose. It is adopting the language of any community, race or tribe in order to impart education in that language and that they could be prevented from imparting education in that language. So also Khasi, Garo and Jaintia can do so for the purpose of imparting education in their mother tongue. But if we must declare any language for the district or for the State it must be one of those languages which are in the list of regional languages. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not think that this resolution can be introduced in this House. We shall be going beyond the bounds of the House if we discuss such resolution I hold that this resolution is not in order.
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, on a point of clarification. The objection raised by the hon. Member from Mylliemngap is that the Resolution itself is not in order. Is he opposing the Resolution or is he admitting the Resolution ?
Shri Jormanick Syiem : Mr. Speaker, Sir, yes, I also raised the point of order that this resolution cannot be introduces in the House under irrelevant Article 29 for introducing the resolution for declaring the district language by this House.
Mr. Speaker : May I remind the Mover of the resolution that there is not bar to admit any resolution, but it is up to the House to decide whether the resolution should be rejected or accepted.
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in reply to the point of order raised by the hon. Member from Mylliem -
Mr. Speaker : He did not raise a point of order. A point of order has already been ruled out right from the beginning, that a point of order cannot be raised against the order paper. So you will have the occasion to reply at the end of the debate.
* Shri Humphrey Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the very beginning, I was nearly about to oppose the resolution, but on hearing the arguments now, I am convinced to support it. I am going to State the reasons for that. One of the hon. Members who opposed the resolution has said that this has been brought by the back-door, where he said that it is already a practice that district languages are used in the districts. Sir, what is the harm of declaring it at present. So Sir, I think the hon. Member, in opposing the resolution, is indirectly supporting the resolution itself.
Secondly, Mr. Speaker, Sir, the other Speaker in opposing the resolution had quoted Article 29 though he said that he is not a constitutional expert. Sir, Article 29 does not say anything about the regional language which he has said as according to him, regional language had to be either Khasi or Garo or dialect. According to the Constitution, Sir, regional language means to State language. Here, regional language means only a district language. Article 29 says about the educational and cultural institutions.
Mr. Speaker : To preserve the language and culture of the minority.
Shri Humphrey Hadem : Sir, moreover, he has stated that it is the duty of the District Councils within their jurisdiction to declare which language to follow. Sir, there is no provision either in the Sixth Schedule or the Constitution itself or in any other provisions of the District Council itself for this. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, because I have already said in the beginning that I was nearly convinced to oppose the resolution, but remembering a historical event some thousand years ago in Babel, I am convinced now to support the resolution because this is the only way to solve the unemployment problem of the people living either in the districts of Khasi, Jaintia or Garo hills. So I do not see why we should not declare it openly not to hide the fact. Sir, this resolution came in the right moment and at the right time for the House to take it as an opportunity to act upon it . With these few words Sir, I support the resolution.
Mr. Speaker : Any other hon. Member ?
Shri Rowell Lyngdoh (Mawkyrwat S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the resolution. In other States in India they demand a State language but where we only demand a District language and not a State language. So many people from outside are serving in the districts, but do not know the State language or the district language of Meghalaya. Therefore, this Resolution will give atleast a right to the people in administration, employment as well as education.
Mr. Speaker : Then what should be the language for inter-district communication ?
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, that will be in the State language which is English.
* Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think Prof. Majaw was under the impression that Government is unaware of the fact that the order paper should be followed. We are not prepared to face any issue before the House, though the suggestions came from you that the Government may reply. Well Mr. Speaker Sir, in this resolution he has referred to Article 347. He has read it and re-read and tried to emphasise on a particular wording. It reads - "On a demand being made in that behalf, the President may, if he is satisfied that a substantial proportion of the population of a State desires the use of any language spoken by them to be recognised by that State, direct that such language shall also be officially recognised throughout that State or any part thereof for such purpose as he may specify." It is clear from the very provision of Article 347 that a demand is to be made by the people themselves and if up try to understand the spirit behind, it will mean the minority in the State, but the Khasis, Garos and the Jaintias are the majority in the State of Meghalaya. The Government of Meghalaya has not declared officially any language but an official notification or act has to be passed for the purpose. Therefore, pending the decision at the State level we are using English in the District level as was the practice of the British regime to us the local languages in K. & J. Hills and Garo Hills. All the petitions submitted to the Deputy Commissioners or the District officers through the local languages are not being refused. Whatever applications received were being dealt with. Therefore, a stage has not yet come for anybody in the State to feel that a particular community or section of the population is being neglected. In fact, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think an occasion will arise for the minorities in the State of Meghalaya when we may have the occasion to declare either Khasi or the Garo as the official languages. But I am not a constitutional expert and I do not know whether it would be possible since these languages have not been enlisted under the 8th Schedule of the Constitution as regional languages. Therefore, I do not see any reason why the hon. Member should bring this resolution. If today, Garos feel that they are handicapped because Garo language is not being used in the District administration ; similarly, if the Khasis feel that the Khasi language is not being allowed to be used at the District administration and so also Jaintias, they may then resort to this Article. But as I said that the occasion has not yet arisen. In fact it would be more so for the minorities of the State. Mr. Speaker, Sir, my hon. friend Mr. Joshi might be quite aware of the fact that in West Bengal Bangalee language has been declared as the State language yet Nepalee language has also been recognised under article 347. Therefore, it is only when this State Assembly, in response to the wishes of the people, chooses a particular language other than English to be the official language. Occasion may come for certain section of the people to resort to this Article. But if such resolution is adopted at this stage, it will lead to a lot of confusion and may also lead to very great reaction. I think we have decided to make the people of our State as Members of the same family. We should see that a Khasi, a Garo, a Jaintia or anybody from some other community should serve the State as a whole and not only confine to one District. He should be able to serve the State be he a Khasi in Garo Hills and also be he a Garo in Khasi Hills. But if we say that only Garo language shall be used in the Garo Hills and unless opportunity is given to the non-Garos to learn Garo language, it will not be possible for a Non-Garo to serve in the Garo Hills. This may lead to disintegration. Moreover I do not see any scope of employment if we are to confine ourselves to the three Districts only. Our scope will be limited only to the District level offices. We talk about unemployment. But if English continues to be the official language, the educated people can serve not only in the District offices but also in the State Government offices. Therefore, I cannot agree with the contention that by declaring Garo as the official language in Garo Hills and Khasi language in Khasi Hills, we shall be able to create more employment potentiality. Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not see any scope for lengthy discussion on this matter and any lengthy discussion on this matter and any lengthy reply thereto. The provision is that - "on demand being made." Let the demand come from the people; let us have the patience. At the moment we cannot foresee as to what would be the official language other than English. Then there may be occasion especially for the minorities to resort to this Article. It may so happen that if we are to choose any language as the official language other than English then the only possible language may be Hindi. Then in that case we will all become minority. I think Mr. Speaker, Sir, you are filly aware that right from the top to bottom our knowledge of Hindi language is not adequate. So we cannot declare it as the official language of the State. But a time may come, when we shall have to face all these questions. A reference has already been made that Meghalaya State came into being because of the language issue. I think this is a lesson for all of us. Therefore, let us not take any hasty decision to declare any language to be the official language of the State lest we may have to face more difficulties. Let us give ample opportunity for our people to learn as many language as possible. It will be our bounden duty to give ample opportunity for the Khasi and Jaintia to learn Garo language and the Garo to learn Khasi language and also the other communities to learn the local language. But you must give them a chance. You must provide facilities. I love my language, I love my mother tongue; but, for my own benefit, I must learn more languages. In a State like Meghalaya the difficulty is this : we cannot think only one particular language If we say that Khasi should be official language, there will be opposition will be from here. We should try to study what is happening in Nagaland. Each village has a different dialect. That particular dialect is unknown to the other villages. The common language, as you know, is broken Assamese. Thai have to find a particular tribal language to be a common language for all. We are to some extent, put in a similar position.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are not speaking about the .......
Mr. Speaker : I think it would be too hasty to jump and interrupt while the Chief Minister is trying to explain by way of an example.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : If a particular language is declared to be the official language the other languages also should be recognised for use in the administration otherwise resort to Art. 347 will arise. I have given the example today that the majority in Garo Hills are the Garos as are the Khasi and Jaintias in Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills respectively. In view of the fact that these dialects or languages are not given any official recognition the occasion does arise to resort to this Article. I repeat that a time may come when we shall have the occasion to declare a particular language to be the State language and that also will depend on what way other languages will be allowed to function and at what level. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would request the hon. Mover of this resolution to realise the implication of the resolution to realise that it is not the opportune moment to bring forward this resolution as it is likely to lead to lead to confusion and misunderstanding. I would, therefore, request the hon. Member, through you, Sir, to withdraw the resolution.
Prof. M.N. Majaw (Mawhati S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, in the first place I am grateful to the hon. Member, Sir, Salseng Marak, for his informing us that in the Garo Hills District, in an official way, Garo is being used at the District level. That is so, I suppose, because the officers know the Garo language. But here Mr. Speaker, Sir, is an example of one small P.W.D. division where, according to the official reply given to me, there are 55 tribals and 102 non-tribals. We have one Land Acquisition Officer in the Khasi Hills District who goes on acquiring land for the Government but who does not know even a single word of Khasi. I am afraid the situation is different in the Garo Hills and if there is a lot of officers who know the Garo language why not make it the official language, as my colleague, Mr. Hadem, has pointed out. As regards disintegration, I humbly submit Mr. Speaker, Sir, that there is no fear of disintegration. Here in this House we have some Khasi M.L.As. who speak excellent Garo, perhaps even better than some Garos and there are some Garo M.L.As. who can speak excellent Khasi. As a matter of fact, there are some Members who are inter-married. So, what harm is there for the Khasis to learn Garo and for the Garos to learn Khasi ?
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I think this is irrelevant.
Mr. Speaker : What harm is there if Garo language is used officially in Garo Hills and what is the harm leaving the matter as it is ?
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, practice makes a man perfect and a lot of perfection will be there if it is in the official notification. As regards the matter of disintegration, even today we have Assamese as a compulsory for tribal areas.
Mr. Speaker : We will discuss that later.
Prof. M.N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am talking about disintegration. When officers of this State are compelled to learn language like Bengali and Assamese which are unknown to them why should non-Khasi and others not learn Khasi ?
* Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, we are placed in such a way that we are not in a position to declare a particular language as the State language. Therefore, we have to see as to which particular language would be acceptable to all. Suppose now Garos are in the majority and that Garo language is declared as the State language that will surely lead to disintegration in the service as far as the District Level is concerned. Unless one has sufficient knowledge of the Garo language, he will not get any post at the District level. The hon. Member from Mawkyrwat is against providing jobs for others who do not know the language, he will not get any post at the District level. The hon. Member from Mawkyrwat is against providing jobs for others who do not know the language. He has also referred to one particular Department, the P.W.D, at the District level. When the State came into being all the officers at the District level had to be taken as they are. Bifurcation takes place at District, Secretariat and Directorate levels and in view of the fact that the tribals are in the majority, they can get the majority of posts. Therefore, it will not be correct to say that Khasi language is the sole official language or that Garo language has been declared as such. In fact even now, we also also decided to see if these non-tribals who are working in the Districts would prefer to go down to Assam so that we can replace thee posts by our own Meghalayans. We are talking up this matter, therefore, it will not be correct to say that the employment opportunities have been blocked. Reference has been made about one S.D.C. who is non-Khasi or a non-Garo who is entrusted with the work of Land Acquisition. So even if we declared Garo or Khasi language as an official language, it all depends upon whether or not we have a man for that. This is not only in this State but in other States also they have to recruit from outside. Even today we are facing difficulties and we have taken all the tribal A.C.S. II, A.C.S I Officers except, I think, one man who is allowed to stay there in the interest of the State because we have some sort of a joint interest.
Prof. Martin Narayan Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I thank the Chief Minister for strengthening my arguments but he has wrongly placed the cart before the horse. We know, Sir, that as far as the Secretariat and Heads of Departments are concerned, we must be grateful to the Government of Meghalaya and others who said that a particular majority is retained. You have inherited directly from the Government of Assam a number of problems, and one of the ways by which we can initiate a solution in a local way would be through the imposition of a district language. Now, when the Assam Government has taken Assamese as the sole official language, which is the main spoken language, there will be a period of transition, it does not mean that the Government of Assam have officers to man all posts. Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is not clear that minorities may demand their languages also under Article 347. The Assamese has been declared as the sole official language to be used for official purposes throughout the State, and it has excluded the introduction of other languages and besides it is the responsibility of the Government to see today that unreasonable demands by certain classes or sections are not met. But if the Government can declare any language to be used in a particular district or in the State, why could not a language which, has already pointed out by my friend today is an unofficial language in Garo Hills District, why can not that language be declared as an official language. It is true, a demand may be made by a community direct to the President ; but it can also be made through this Assembly. Mr. Speaker, Sir, the Ruling Party is in a majority in the Garo Hills but, in other districts, if we are to judge by the last election we in the opposition are in a majority. Therefore, we can certainly combine evolve a common way out and declare Khasi as an official language in the two districts of Khasi and Jaintia, and the Garo language in the Garo Hills District. Therefore, I humbly refuse to withdraw my resolution.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, for clarification I would request you to realise that if a particular language under Art. 347 is allowed to be recognised it does not mean that language will be solely used as other languages may also be used unless the State declares a particular language to be a sole language. This may have to be realised by the mover of the resolution.
Mr. Speaker : The debate on this subject is closed. Since the mover of the resolution has refused to withdraw his resolution, I put the resolution before the House. The Question is that this Assembly recommends to the Government of Meghalaya to request the President of India under the provisions of Article 347 of the Constitution of India to declare by notification of the Khasi language to be the language that shall be used for all official purposes at the district level in the district of Khasi Hills and the Garo language that shall be used for all official purposes at the district level in the Garo Hills. The Motion is lost. Now let us come to resolution No. 2.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot (Nongstoin S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I beg to move that in view of the fact that most of the Khasi and Garo candidates to the Police Force fail to secure appointment as Bengali and Assamese languages are being imposed s compulsory languages which they have to pass, this Assembly therefore, recommends to the Government of Meghalaya to immediately abolish Bengali and Assamese languages as the subjects and instead the Police personnel in Meghalaya should compulsorily know Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts and Garo in the Garo Hills Districts. Mr. Speaker, Sir, as we have already discussed the first resolution, I take the opportunity of bringing this resolution in the House for consideration. Right from the beginning of our struggle for a separate Hill State, the main issue is the language issue. This language issue was the cause of our struggle and now as soon as we have achieved our own State, we find the same language difficulty. This issue has not yet been solved and rather it is being continued in spite of our freedom. This I may say is a shame to our Government for creating all these problems in the past and at the same time, the same people have to face the same difficulty. We were expecting that with the achievement of our full-fledged State we will be able to use our own language or to choose any language which we like as we have discussed just now. But it is regretfully seen that in this respect the Government has forgotten the promise made in the political fields in the past. When we have got our own State. I do not understand why Bengali and Assamese should be the compulsory subjects which our police personnel have to pass. This is an obstruction to the Khasi youths as well as the Garo youths in matters of employment. But one more thing, Sir, those illiterate persons from the villages of the country side cannot get appointment in the Police Department because they do not know Assamese or Bengali and those already in service have found it which they have to pass. I, therefore, do not have to say much as I think the position is already understood.
Mr. Speaker : Do you mean to say that both 'Bengali' and 'Assamese' are compulsory subjects for the recruitment of new candidates or these subjects are required only for departmental examination ?
Shri F.K. Mawlot : Mr. Speaker, Sir, these two languages are required both for departmental examinations and also for use in offices. If you go to the Police Reserve Station here in Shillong, you will find that nobody can follow or can speak Khasi. Even the wife of a Police personnel who lives in the Reserve, has to know either Assamese or Bengali. So, Mr. Speaker, Sir, in this regard I press upon the Government to think over the matter again, and consider immediate abolition of Assamese and Bengali and in their places, Khasi and Jaintia languages should be introduced. The same should be done in respect of Garo Hills. Garo language should be imposed in such a way, that all our Police personnel instead if learning Bengali or Assamese, should learn Khasi and Garo so that the learning Bengali or Assamese, should learn Khasi and Garo so that the Garos will be able to speak in Garo and the Khasi in Khasi. We have so far experienced that police personnel who go to the interior to investigate cases, most of the time, and on many occasions, do not understand the language and instead of getting the correct report, they get the wrong report. Therefore, through you Sir, I would request the Government to do away with these two languages i.e., Assamese and Bengali.
* Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the Resolution moved by my friend, Shri F.K. Mawlot. This is a serious problem, no doubt. Mr. Speaker, Sir, so far as Police Force is concerned, I remember there were cases in which the officer of the rank of Sub-Inspector of Police has not been able to get his promotion due to the imposition of these two languages i.e. Assamese and Bengali, as compulsory subjects in the departmental examinations Many of the senior officers have to face the difficulty of not getting the promotion even though, they were due to get the same. Their promotions have been deferred. There is no consideration for promotion unless they get through in the departmental examination. After getting our own State, I feel this is redundant. We should consider abolition of these two languages. Two years have passed since we have got our own State ; I think it is time for this Government to start implementation of our own languages in the district level as well as State level. If this is done, we will have sufficient number of our own police personnel to man our frontiers.
Mr. Speaker : I fail to understand the hon. Member. The question as to whether Assamese and Bengali languages are compulsory subjects or whether these are applicable only in regard to promotions of before crossing the efficiency bar.
Shri Winstone Syiemiong : Mr. Speaker, Sir, it is a fact that in many cases most of the police officers do not understand the local languages. Therefore, Sir, they have not been able to dispose of the cases quickly and satisfactorily. Hence, the necessity of introducing Khasi or Garo languages in the police department.
Shri Y. Fuller Lyngdoh Mawnai (Mairang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker Sir, in supporting the resolution moved by my hon. friend, I have a few points to say. The Police are known to be the 'arms of the law'. And in order to maintain law and order it is a necessity that the police personnel of this State should know the district languages of the State. The police are among others, the people who are always in contact with the people or the masses. In this connection I would point out one think, that the failure of the police officers or police personnel in the matter of places. This has resulted in the dislocation of cases to be disposed of. It is for this reason that most of the culprits could not be arrested or brought to book due to the fact that the officers do not know how to speak in the local dialect. Therefore, I feel, it has become a necessity for the police personnel to know the district languages so that law and order can be properly maintained. With these few words, Sir, I support the Resolution.
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I also rise to support the resolution moved by the hon. Member from Nongstoin. I only want to raise one point, that is, the compulsory imposition of languages on the police officers, which sometimes lead to corruption ..............
Mr. Speaker : What corruption ?
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : I will be coming to that Sir, I hope investigation has been made with regard to a particular Head Assistance in the S.P.'s office in the Khasi Hills who actually distributes answer papers for Rs. 50 ....................
Mr. Speaker : You have brought a person directly before the House. You should report to the authorities. Did you take steps ?
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, this has been reported, but we have always been asked to give evidence. Now the problem is that no junior officer will come forward.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I intervene ? This matter was brought in the floor of the House and I do not exactly remember - it may be during the last Budget Session. I then requested, but unfortunately the gentleman is not here. But if there is a specific complaint, the complaint may be lodged before the Government, but in spite of my request, he has not done it.
Mr. Speaker : Please do not refer to that specific case.
Prof. Martin N. Majaw : Mr. Speaker, Sir, may I point out with your permission that we had occasion to point out certain irregularities in the Transport Department. We are very grateful to the Minister-in-charge of Transport that after having investigated, the allegation was found to be true. Here also Mr. Speaker, Sir, the whole matter is brought before you. There is no junior officer who will dare to come forward and give evidence and thereby jeopardise his promotion, but atleast the Government can appoint a kind of super invigilator at the time of examination. But what's happened ? The invigilator is sitting in the corner taking tea, kwai, cigarettes and it is nobody's business after that, while answer papers are distributed and Rs. 50 is collected later by this Head Assistant. If the Government can supervise this departmental language examination on the next occasions it will discover that this is the situation.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna (Nongtalang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I rise to support the resolution of the hon. Member. I do hope that our Chief Minister will accept the resolution in view of the fact that he has flatly refused that the district language should not be there. The Garos do not want that Garo should be the district language and the Khasi in the ruling party do not want that Khasi should be a district language.
Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) : Excuse me, Mr. Speaker, Sir, none of us has said that we do not want district language.
Mr. Speaker : I think it is better to avoid insinuating remarks. As far as the second resolution is concerned, there are two portions. Supposing the Government accept one and reject the other portion, what can you do ? But so far as the statement that you made is concerned the Chief Minister will not accept alone but it is the Government.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna (Nongtalang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, many interesting incidents happened in connection with the language. There is a story of one enquiry officer who happened to be a Bengali. He went to Lama Village and the headman and the people there welcomed him. They wanted him to enquire into the case thoroughly. It is, of course, five years back and when they offered him something to eat they said "khaw-khaw sorombho neihai". They were trying to speak in Bengali.
Mr. Speaker : That is not Bengali language.
Shri H. Enowell Pohshna (Nongtalang S.T.) : So, instead of taking food offered to him, the Police officer went away with his entire force. Thus, there is the difficulty if we are asked to study different language. I feel that Bengali and Assamese languages should not be made compulsory and they should not stand in the way of promotion or efficiency of our local tribal officers. Then if a Khasi officer cannot be promoted or allowed to cross the efficiency bar, it is not because of his fault but of his mother language and community. I, therefore, appeal to the Chief Minister to agree......(laughter)
Mr. Speaker : I have always been repeating not to utter insinuating remarks. Once you place the facts and figures before the Government, they will accept any suggestion which are really constructive and practical.
Shri H.E. Pohshna : Sir, sometimes we have to bring examples in order to bring home big things. May I, therefore, request the Chief Minister to see that language does not stand in the way of promotion and efficiency of our officers. They should not be punished for the sake of language.
* Shri Humphrey Hadem (Mynso-Raliang S.T.) : Mr. Speaker, Sir, I do not want to repeat but I want to cite some instances. Mr. Pohshna has just now pointed out about one incident which happened about 5 years ago. But I want to point out an incident which happened about 5 years ago. But I want to point out an incident of about two weeks ago.
Mr. Speaker : I think Mr. Hadem and Mr. Pohshna have gone out of the way. Please be seated and have patience. The Resolution says that Bengali and Assamese should not be made compulsory subjects for purpose of promotion. Many participants have brought forward that all police personnel should learn Khasi and Garo languages. Both are important from the practical point of view and officers working in an area must know the language of the area to function effectively. So far Bengali and Assamese were compulsory subjects for promotion. That, of course, is a handicap to the tribal officers. These two things should not be mixed up.
Shri Humphrey Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, there are two issues in the resolution. The first issue is that Assamese and Bengali languages stand in the way of promotion of may be they affect the efficiency of our tribal officers. Secondly, Mr. Speaker, Sir, these two languages should be learnt by the tribal policemen. As such Mr. Speaker, Sir, I would like to acquaint you with the facts that took place about two weeks ago in my own village regarding land dispute. For that matter Sir, a police officer has been deputed to enquire into the matter.
Mr. Speaker :- Has that case been registered in a court of law?
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, an enquiry has just started and after police report and if a prima-facie case is established, the case will be registered. So what happened? The Police Officer as soon as he came for enquiry, started to put questions to certain persons and after that the police officer went back without enquiring into the case.
Mr. Speaker :- Indirectly you should not refer to a case which is under investigation. If a prima-facie case is established, it has to be registered in a court of law. But if you interfere with the duty of the police officer, it may affect the working of the police department and they may not be in a position to function effectively.
Shri H. Hadem :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, I am not going into the merits and demerits of the case, I am only referring on the difficulty of language between the two parties viz., the inquiry officer and the local people. What I mean is that the enquiry officer could not give details of the case because he could not understand the language, and he had to return without knowing the head or tail of the incident. Sir, there is a poor Pnar police officer. He is in the service more than 20 years but he cannot get his promotion because he could not pass the two languages, Assamese and Bengalee. I would like, Mr. Speaker, Sir, to request the Government to go into the details of service of the officer concerned. He is in Jowai Police Station. In the same way, this passing of the two languages will stand in the way for promotion of our people. I do not agree with the view of the Chief Minister that since we have our own State we should learnt as many languages as possible. That does mean that we do not respect the languages of the non-tribals people. But we cannot deprive the right of having promotion to our own people who do not know those languages. As such, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I fully support the resolution that has been moved by the hon. Member. I do hope that at least this particular resolution will be accepted by Government into. With these few words Mr. Speaker, Sir, I resume my seat.
* Shri W.A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the first instance, I would like to inform the hon. Member that we have achieved our State only on the 21st January, 1972, and as such, we have not been able to have our own service rules. The officers we are having now are drawn up from the Government of Assam including the All India Services and the State Services are governed by the rules framed by the Government of Assam. Now except the All India Service, we are going to have our own separate State services. As far as the All India services are concerned like the I.A.S., I.F.S. and I.P.S., we are going to have a joint cadre with the Government of Assam. The Government has already taken steps to bifurcate the State Services and after that all the officers belonging to Meghalaya State Services and after that all the officers belonging to Meghalaya State Services will be governed by our own rules. We fully realise that not only the Police Officers but unless and until other officers know the local languages they will be handicapped in the discharge of their duties. We have already agreed in principle that the knowledge of Garo and Khasi languages should be made compulsory when the Services are bifurcated since these are the two languages widely spoken in the State of Meghalaya. As far as knowledge of these languages by the officers belonging to All India Service Cadre like the I.P.S., I.A.S. etc., is concerned we have taken up the matter with the joint cadre authority of the Government of India, so that knowledge of these languages can be made compulsory. Naturally, when we were in the composite State of Assam, Bengalee and Assamese being the languages spoken by the majority communities were made compulsory along with the knowledges of Hindi with a view to making the service of the officers effective. Now the time has changed. As I said, in the State of Meghalaya, though we have some other languages, Garo and Khasi languages are spoken by the majority as 80% of the population composed of tribals. As such it will not be in line with the procedure adopted in this regard by other States to make these languages compulsory. Constables are not required to pass any other languages compulsory. Constables are not required to pass any other languages except when they are due for promotion. From the rank of A.S.I. onwards they are to learn, Assamese and Bengalee languages. It is not only through a resolution that this fact can be appreciated. I entirely agree with the hon. Members that unless and until the police officers have sufficient knowledge of the local languages in the discharge of their duties they will be handicapped. As such we are going to make Garo and Khasi languages compulsory. But in view of the fact that at present we do not have our own people to man those posts immediately, it may be necessary for us to give some incentives to these officers to learn the languages. I do not know whether Mr. Majaw supported the resolution where it has been suggested that Garo and Khasi languages should be made compulsory. He had occasion to say that when the officers have to learn Assamese and Bengalee languages it might lead to corruption. Therefore, it appears to me that his support is half-hearted. The Government is fully aware of the fact that unless and until the officers are well conversant with local languages, it will be very hard for them to discharge their duties.
Mr. Speaker :- May I draw the attention of the Chief Minister? It is time now that we adjourn the House. But if you will take only a few minutes to finish, then may I have the sense of the House that we adjourn only after the Chief Minister has finished his reply?
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- I need hardly two minutes.
( Voices- What about the mover of the resolution? He should also be given a chance to reply).
Mr. Speaker :- Of course, I will give him 2 minutes.
Shri Williamson A. Sangma (Chief Minister) :- Therefore, Mr. Speaker, Sir, I have been informed that Government is moving in the way that is being suggested in the resolution. Allow the Government to complete all the preliminaries in order to give affect to this. I would request the hon. Mover of the resolution to kindly withdraw his resolution.
Shri Francis K. Mawlot :- Mr. Speaker, Sir, of course, I am very glad to hear the narration given by the Chief Minister and at the same time for his love and affection which he has shown to the Khasi language as well as the Garo language. But as we are all aware promises remain cold promises if we are not going to fulfill them. They will remain promises for ever and ever. So, this is the last chance that we are having to discuss. I would express that I am not satisfied with the assurances of the Chief Minister. At the same time, many hon. Members may take note that there is a great move among the Khasi youths, and on that basis I am not going to withdraw the resolution.
Mr. Speaker :- Since the hon. Mover of the resolution does not withdraw, I put the question before the House. The question is that in view of the fact that most of the Khasi and Garo candidates to the Police Force fail to secure appointment as Bengali and Assamese languages are being imposed as compulsory languages which they have to pass, this Assembly, therefore, recommends to the Government of Meghalaya to immediately abolish Bengali and Assamese languages as the subjects and instead the Police personnel in Meghalaya should compulsory know Khasi in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts and Garo in the Garo Hills District.
The Motion is
negatived. The resolution is lost.
The House stands adjourned till 10 a.m. on Wednesday, the 29th November, 1972.
The 28th November, 1972.
Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.