10. FOREST -
As part of the question of occupation of land thetransfer of the management of land now classed as reservedforest has also been raised. We have recommended that thelegislative powers of the Local Councils should not coverreserved forests. While accepting the need for centralisedmanagement of the forests, we would strongly emphasise thatin questions of actual management, including the appointmentof forest staff and the granting of contracts and leases,the susceptibilities and the legitimate desires and needs of the hill people should be taken into account, and werecommend that the Provincial Government should accept thisprinciple as a part of its policy.
11. JHUMING -
We recommend further that the tribes should have theright of deciding for themselves whether to permit jhumcultivation, or not. We are fully aware of the evils of jhumcultivation that it leads to erosion, alteration of therainfall, floods, change of climate etc. The tribes may notalways be aware of these dangers but they have definitelybegun to realise that settled or terraced cultivation is thebetter way. The Angami terrace on a large scale and in mostof the hills definite attempts at introducing settledcultivation are being made. The main difficulty however isthe fact that all hill areas do not lend themselves toterracing equally well and in some parts, there may be aportion which could be terraced without prohibitive cost, oreconomically cultivated, by this method. Terracing meanslabour, a suitable hill side and the possibility ofirrigation. When these are not all available it is obviousthat the tribes cannot be persuaded to take up terracing andmust continue jhum. While therefore, we feel strongly thatjhuming should be discouraged and stopped whenever possible,no general legislative bar can be imposed without takinglocal circumstances in the account. Besides there is afeeling among the tribes that jhuming is part of their wayof life, and that interference with it is wanton, and donewith ulterior motives. The wearing out of that feeling mustcome from within rather than as imposition from outsidewhich may cause undue excitement among the tribes. Wepropose therefore that the control of jhuming should be leftto local councils who, we expect, will be guided by expertadvice.
12. CIVIL AND CRIMINAL COURTS -
On the principle that the local customary laws shouldbe interfered with as little as possible and that the tribalcouncils and courts should be maintained we recommended thatthe hill people should have full powers of administeringtheir own social laws, codifying or modifying them. Atpresent the Code of Criminal Procedure and the CivilProcedure Code are not applicable to the hill districtsthough officials are expected to be guided by the spirit of these laws. In practice, criminal cases, which are not of aserious nature like murder and offences against the State,are left to the tribal councils or chiefs to be dealt within accordance with custom. Usually offences are treated asmatter for the payment of compensation and fines areinflicted. There appears no harm and a good deal of advantage in maintaining current practice in this respectand we recommend accordingly that all criminal offencesexcept those punishable with death, transportation orimprisonment for five years and upwards should be left to bedealt with in accordance with local practice and that so faras such offences are concerned the Code of CriminalProcedure should not apply. As regards the more seriousoffences punishable with imprisonment of five years or morewe are of the view that they should be tried henceforthregularly under the Criminal Procedure Code. This does notmean that tribal councils or courts set up by the localcouncils should not try such cases and we contemplate thatwherever they are capable of being empowered with powersunder the Criminal Procedure Code this should be done.
As regards civil cases (among the tribes there is littledistinction between criminal and civil
cases) we recommendthat except suits arising out of special laws, all ordinarysuits should be disposed of by the tribal councils or courtsand we see no objection to the local councils being investedwith full powers to deal with them, including appeal andrevision. In respect of civil and criminal cases where non-tribals are involved, they should be tried under the regularlaw and the Provincial Government should make suitablearrangements for the expeditious disposal of such cases byemploying Circuit Magistrates or Judges.
13. OTHER LOCAL SELF GOVERNMENT -
As regards such matters as primary schools dispensariesand the like which normally come under the scope of localself-governing institutions in the plains it is needless forus to say that the Hill Districts should get all such powersand except in the North Cachar Hills and the Mikir Hills, weare of opinion that the Hill People will be able to takeover control of such matters without much difficulty. With aview to providing some training and thereby smoothening thetransition, the Chairman of our Sub-Committee has alreadytaken up the question of establishment of councils withpowers of local boards. The difference between the councilswe contemplate for the Hill Districts and Local Boards willalready have been clear from the foregoing paragraphs. It isproposed to entrust these councils with powers oflegislation and administration over land, village forestagriculture and village and town management in general, inaddition to the administration of tribal or local law. Overand above these matters the tribes are highly interested ineducation and feel that they should have full control overprimary education at least. We have considered this questionin all its aspects and feel that the safe policy to followin this matter is to leave it to the local councils to cometo a decision on the policy to be followed. We recommendthat primary education should be administered by the LocalCouncils without interference by the Government of Assam.The Assam Government will however always be available toprovide such advice and assistance as the Local Councils mayrequire through its Education Department particularly withreference to the linking up of primary with secondaryeducation. As regards secondary school education we do notconsider that the Hill People in general are able to lookafter this subject themselves nor do we consider that thisstage should be left without some integration at least withthe general system of the Province. There is of course noobjection to Local Council being made responsible for themanagement of secondary schools where they are found to havethe necessary material. But we consider that no statutoryprovision for this necessary and that it should be open tothe Council and the Government of Assam by executiveinstructions to make the necessary arrangements. The LocalCouncils will have powers of management in all other mattersusually administered by local boards and we consider that onaccount of the special circumstances in the hills thecouncils should have powers to make their own administrativeregulations and rules. We expect however that in allmatters, particularly those involving technical matters likeand management of dispensaries or construction of roads, theLocal Councils and their staffs will work under theExecutive guidance of the corresponding ProvincialDepartment.
For the Mikir and the North Cachar Hills, we recommendthat the necessary supervision and guidance should beprovided for a period of six years which we expect will bethe term of two councils by the appointment of the Districtor Sub-Divisional officer, as the case may be, as ex-officioPresident of the Council with powers, subject to the controlof the Government of Assam, to modify or annul resolutionsof the Council and to issue instructions as he may findnecessary.
14. FINANCE -
(a) Powers of the Council. - The next question wepropose to consider is finance. A demand common to the NagaHills, the Khasi and JaintiaHills, the Garo Hills and the Lushai Hill is that all powersof taxation should rest
in the National Councils. TheNational Conference of the Garo and of the Khasi and JaintiaHills suggested a contribution to the provincial revenues ora sharing of certain items. If this were accepted even theCentre would have no powers to levy finances in these area.Suggestions regarding contribution to provincial revenuesare obviously based on the assumption that the district, inaddition to what it needs for its own expenditure, will havea surplus to make over to the Provincial Government. In thecase of the Garo Hills, it was suggested that the abolitionof zamindari rights in that area would result in aconsiderable augmentation of the revenues of the districtwhich would then be able to spare a certain sum to theProvincial Government, and generally the idea seems to bethat given sufficient powers the Districts will be able toincrease their revenues by exploitation of forests, mineraland hydro-electrical potentialities. Not only do some of thedistricts feel that they will have plenty of money in duecourse but the demand for all powers of taxation is based toa large extent on the fear that if the Provincial Governmenthas those powers they may not get a fair deal and there maybe diversion of money to other districts. Districts which,on the other hand feel that they do not command potentialsources of revenue or at least realise that the developmentof the resources will take time during which they remaineddeficit can only make a vague demand for allocation of fundsfrom a benevolent Province or Centre to supplement localresources.
The question of finance and powers of taxation in anatmosphere of suspicion and fear is not an easy one. Anysurplus district is likely to examine the provincialexpenditure with a jealous eye to find out whether it gets agood share of expenditure for its own benefit or not. Theextreme case is the expectation or demand that all therevenues derived from a particular district must be spentwithin that district itself. It is obvious however thatwhere different districts are functioning under a commonProvincial Government, the revenues of the whole area becomediverted to a common pool from which they are distributed tothe best possible advantage of the Province as a whole.Should all powers of taxation and appropriation of revenuesbe placed in the hands of the hills districts, the plainsdistricts will not fail to make a similar demand, and ifthey do, there would be little justification to refuse it tothem. The concession of such a demand to the variousdistricts virtually amounts to breaking up the provincialadministration. Besides, giving unregulated powers oftaxation in general to small units is undesirable as itwould result in different principles, perhaps unsoundprinciples, being adopted indifferent places for purposes oftaxation and in the absence of coordination and provincialcontrol, chaos is more likely than sound administration.Further it is obvious that a local council and localexecutive would be much more susceptible and amenable tolocal pressure and influence that either the ProvincialGovernment or its executive and will therefore not find itpossible to undertake measures of taxation which theProvince as a whole can. Even if taxes can be adequatelyresorted to by the local council, the proposal that anappropriation could be made for the provincial revenues doesnot sound practicable, for what the quantum of that will beis to be determined only by the National Council and it isquite obvious that the Council will decide the quantum fromthe point of view of its own need rather than the needs of the Province as a whole. The areas which feel that they havelarge potential sources of revenue must not forget thattheir demands for educational and other development are alsovery large and expanding. Various other factors such as theefficiency of tax collection and the cost of collectingstaff have to be taken into consideration and we are of theview that the only practicable way is to allocate certaintaxes and financial powers to the Councils and not allpowers of taxation. Accepting this conclusion then we
canconsider what powers they should have. It goes withoutsaying that they should have all the powers which localbodies in a plains district enjoy and we recommend that inrespect of taxes like taxes on houses, professions ortrades, vehicles,animals, octroi, market dues, ferry dues and powers toimpose cesses for specified purposes within the ambit of theCouncils, they should have full powers. We expect that theCouncils will seek the advice of the Provincial Governmentin exercising these powers but in view of the democraticspirit and nature of tribal life, we do not consider thatany control by the Provincial Government which is prescribedby statute is necessary. In addition we would recommendpowers to impose house tax or poll tax, land revenue (asland administration is made over to the Councils), leviesarising out of the powers of management of village forest,such as grazing dues and licences for removal of forestproduce.
(b) Provincial Finance. - There is no doubt that forsome time to come the development of the Hills must dependon the rest of the province and they will be regarded as"deficit areas". As their development must be regarded as amatter of urgency considerable sums of money will berequired but it is equally certain that measures ofdevelopment are needed in other districts also and theclaims of the Hills will not find a free field. Theexpenditure on the excluded areas has so far been a non-voted charge on the provincial revenues but unless it isprovided in the Constitution that sums considered necessaryby the Governor for the Hills will be outside the vote of the legislature we have to consider how the provision of adequate revenues can be secured. In this connection, wewould point out the admission in the Factual Memorandum*received from the Government of Assam that while theExcluded Areas have benefitted by the provision in theGovernment of India Act regarding them, the PartiallyExcluded Areas in respect of which the funds are subject tothe vote of the legislature have suffered greatly. Inparticular, the position of the Mikir Hills seems to be abad example. Here, only a small proportion of the revenuesderived from the area which contains rich forests isutilised in the district and the position in respect ofprovision of schools, medical facilities etc. isunsatisfactory. We have noted the views of witnesses fromthe various political organisations that there is a lot ofgoodwill among the plains people towards the tribes but wefeel that a more concrete provision is necessary aspractical administration must be taken into account. It isadmitted all round that the development of the hills is amatter of urgency for the province as a whole and thereshould therefore be a good measure of support for a specificprovision.
Coming to the actual provision to be made, it has beensuggested in some quarters that the revenue to be spentwithin a Hill District should be ear marked by provision inthe Constitution and should form a definite proportion of the revenue of the Province. This, in our opinion, is animpracticable proposition since any statutory ratio isinvariable for a number of years and there are no simpleconsiderations on which it can be based. If it is based onthe population, it is obvious that the expenditure would betotally inadequate, for the hill areas are generallysparsely populated. On the other hand, if a certain stage ofdevelopment has been reached, the provision of funds on thebasis of area may amount pampering the tracts, while revenueis needed elsewhere. We have no doubt that the fixation of arigid ratio by statute would not be suitable for theProvincial Government to work on and may not be in theinterests of the Hills themselves. We feel that placing thesums outside the vote of the legislature is likely to bedistasteful to the Legislature and contrary to thedemocratic spirit and proceed therefore to consider analternative.
It appears to us that the main reason why the needs of the Hills are apt to be overlooked is due to the clamour ofmore vocal districts and the facts that there is littleattention to
or criticism of, the provisions made for theHills, which in the case of voted items are merged ingeneral figures. If therefore a separate financial statementfor each such area showing the revenue from it and theexpenditure proposed is placed before the legislature, itwould have, apart from the psychological effect, theadvantage that it would draw attention specifically to anyinadequacy and make scrutiny and criticism easy. It can ofcourse be
* P. Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas - I(reference to pages are to pages in the original reports.)
objected that criticism may be ignored and that the separatestatement may therefore not serve any really useful purpose,but we nevertheless recommend the provision of a separatefinancial statement as likely to fulfil its purpose. We alsorecommend that the framing of a suitable programme ofdevelopment, should be on the Government of Assam, either bystatute or by an Instrument of Instructions, as anadditional safeguard.
(c) Central Subventions. - While the Province may beexpected to do its best to provide finances to the limit ofits capacity, it seems to us quit clear that therequirements of the Hill Districts, particularly fordevelopment schemes, are completely beyond the presentresources of Assam. Though the Districts are more developedthan the Frontier Tracts in respect of which the CentralGovernment has recognised the need for special grants fordevelopment, the position of the Hill Districts incomparison with the plains districts is not radicallydifferent. The development of the Hill Districts should forobvious reason by as much the concern of the CentralGovernment as of the Provincial Government. Bearing in mindthe special position of this province in respect of sourcesof central revenue, we consider that financial assistanceshould be provided by the Centre to meet the deficit in theordinary administration of the districts on the basis of theaverage deficit during the past three years and that thecost of development schemes should also be borne by theCentral Exchequer. We recommend statutory provisionsaccordingly.
(d) Provincial Grants for the Local Councils. - Some ofour coopted Members have expressed the apprehension that thesources of revenue open to them may not provide adequaterevenue for the administration of the District Council,particularly where there are Regional Councils. We have notmade a survey of the financial position of the new councilsand their requirements in the light of the responsibilitiesimposed on them but we recognise their claim for assistancefrom general provincial revenues to the extent that they areunable to raise the necessary revenue from the sourcesallotted to them for the due discharge of their statutoryliabilities.
15. CONTROL OF IMMIGRATION -
The Hill People, as remarked earlier, are extremelynervous of outsiders, particularly non-tribals, and feelthat they are greatly in need of protection against theirencroachment and exploitation. It is on account of this fearthat they attach considerable value of regulations like theChin Hill Regulations under which an outsider could berequired to possess a pass to enter the Hill territorybeyond the Inner Line and an undesirable person could beexpelled. They fell that with the disappearance of exclusionthey should have powers similar to those conferred by theChin Hills Regulations. The Provincial Government, in theirview, is not the proper custodian of such powers since theywould be susceptible to the influence of plains people.Experience in areas inhabited by other tribes shows thateven where provincial laws conferred protection on the landthey have still been subjected to expropriation at the handsof money-lenders and others. We consider therefore that thefears of the Hill People regarding unrestrained liberty tooutsiders to carry on money lending or other non-agricultural professions is not without justification and werecognise also the depth of their feeling. We recommendaccordingly that if the local councils so decide by amajority of three fourths of their members, they introduce
asystem of licensing for money-lenders and traders. Theyshould not of course refuse licences to existing money-lenders and dealers and any regulations framed by themshould be restricted to regulating interest, prices orprofit and the maintenance of accounts and inspection.
16. MINES AND MINERALS -
The present position is that except in relation to theKhasi States all powers are vested in the ProvincialGovernment. The hill peoplestrongly desire that revenues accruing from the exploitationof minerals should not go entirely to the ProvincialGovernment and that their Council should be entitled to thebenefits also. In order to ensure this they demand thatcontrol should be vested in them in one way or another. Wehave considered this carefully keeping particularly in mindthat the Khasi Hill States are now entitled to half theroyalties from minerals and feel that the demand of the hillshould be met, not by placing the management in their hands,but by recognising their right to a fair share of therevenue. The mineral resources of the country are limitedand it is recognised by us that the issue of licences andleases to unsuitable persons is likely to result inunbusiness like working and devastation. We consider thatthe best policy is to centralise the management of mineralresources in the hands of the Provincial Government subjectto the sharing of the revenue as aforesaid and also to thecondition that no licences or leases shall be given out bythe Provincial Government except in consultation with thelocal Council.
17. LEGISLATION -
The position under the Government of India Act, 1935,has already been described. It has been argued in somequarters that no provincial legislation should be applicableto the hill except with the approval of the Hill Council.This, we consider, is a proposition which cannot be accededto without reservations. It is true that no legislation isnow applicable without a notification by the Governor butthe Governor in practice would apply the legislation unlessthere is a reason why it should not be applied, while theCouncil would probably be guided by other considerations.There are many matters in which the legislature hasjurisdiction which has nothing to do with special customs inthe hills and to provide that such legislation should notapply directly would only amount to obstruction or delayingthe course of legislation which ought to be applied. It mayalso frustrate the application of a uniform policy throughthe whole province and subject everything to the limitedvision of a local council. The Hill Districts will of coursehave their representatives in the provincial legislature andwe feel that a bar should be placed only in the way ofprovincial legislation which deals with subjects in whichthe Hill Councils have legislative powers or which arelikely to affect social customs and laws. We considertherefore that there is no need for a general restrictionand we have provided accordingly for limited restriction inClause L* of Appendix A to this Part. We have also includedin this draft a clause concerning the drinking of rice-beerwhich is very much a part of the hill people's life. We feelthat the Council should have liberty to permit or prohibitthis according to the wishes of the people. We would drawattention to the fact that the rice-beer (Zu or Laopani) isnot a distilled liquor and that its consumption is notdeleterious to the same extent as distilled liquor consumedby tribes in other areas.
18. REGIONAL COUNCILS -
The conditions obtaining in the Naga Hills and theNorth Cachar Hills, in particular, need special provision.The Naga Hills are the home of many different tribes knownby the general name of Naga; in the North Cachar Hills,there are Naga, Cachari, Kuki, Mikir and some Khasi orSynteng. Other Hills also contain pockets of tribes otherthan the main tribe. The local organisations referred toearlier have themselves found the need for separate Sub-Councils for the different tribes and the condition are suchthat unless such separate councils are provided for thedifferent tribes may not only
feel that their local autonomyis encroached upon but there is the possibility of frictionalso. We have therefore provided for the creation ofRegional Councils, if the tribes so desire. These RegionalCouncils will have powers limited to their customary law andmanagement of their land villages. We also propose that theRegional Councils shall be able to delegate their powers tothe District Councils.
* Reference to pages are to pages in the original reports.
19. EMERGENCY PROVISIONS -
The picture drawn thus far is therefore that anautonomous Council for the district with powers oflegislation over land, village, forests, social customs,administration of local law, powers over village and towncommittees, etc:, with corresponding financial powers. Theseare far in excess of the powers of Local Boards. What if theCouncil or the executive controlled by it should misuse thepowers or prove incapable of reasonably efficientmanagement? Some of the Hill Districts are no on the bordersof India. What if their acts prove prejudicial to the safetyof the country? Experience all over the country indicatesthat local bodies sometimes mismanage their affairs grossly.We consider that the Governor should have the power to actin an emergency and to declare an act or resolution of theCouncil illegal or void, if the safety of the country isprejudiced, and to take such other action as may benecessary. We also consider that if gross mismanagement isreported by a Commission, the Governor should have powers todissolve the Council subject to the approval of theLegislature before which the Council, if so it desires, canput its case. (See clause Q of Appendix A*).
20. THE FRONTIER TRACTS -
(a) Central Administration recommended. - We haveindicated the difference between the Frontier Tracts andother Hill Areas already. It is clear that the legalposition on the Balipara and Sadiya Frontier Tracts is thatthey are part of the province right up to the MacMahon Line.Regular provincial administration is however not yetpossible (except perhaps in the plains portions before theInner Line) on account of the circumstances prevailingthere. The policy followed in these tracts as well as on theTirap Frontier (where there is no delineated frontier withBurma yet) and the Naga Tribal Area is that of graduallyextending administration. We recommend that when the CentralGovernment which now administers these areas (and which weconsider it should continue to do with the government of assam as its agent) is of the view that administration hasbeen satisfactorily established over a sufficiently widearea, the Government of Assam should take over theadministration of that area by the issue of a notification.We also recommend that the pace of extending administrationshould be greatly accelerated and that in order tof acilitate this, steps should be taken to appoint separateofficers for the Lohit Valley, the Siang Valley and the NagaTribal area which at present is in the jurisdiction of twodifferent officers (the Political Officer, Tirap FrontierTract and the Deputy Commissioner, Naga Hills District). Wehave provided that the administration of the areas to bebrought under the provincial administration in future shouldalso be similar to that of existing Hill Districts.
(b) Lakhimpur Frontier and Plains Portions. - Regardingthe Lakhimpur Frontier Tract, is appears to be the view of the External Affairs Department that this Tract does notdiffer from the plains "and need not be considered inrelation to the problems of the hill tribes." Ourinformation goes to show that a portion of the LakhimpurFrontier Tract was recently (during the war) included in theTirap Frontier Tract. The view of the Political Officerregarding this portion differed from that of other witnessesand the circumstances here seem to need closer examination,as the Political Officer has stated that the area isinhabited by tribes people. There are certain Buddhistvillages inhabited by Fakials who should be brought into theregularly administered area if possible. About the LakhimpurFrontier Tract which is
under the Deputy CommissionerLakhimpur we have no hesitation in recommending that itshould be attached to the regular administration of theDistrict. The report of the Deputy Commissioner producedbefore us in evidence is clear on the point. We alsoconclude from the evidence collected at Sadiya that theSaikhoaghat portion of the
* Reference to pages are to pages in the original reports.
excluded area south of the Lohit river and possibly thewhole of the Sadiya plains portion up to the Inner Linecould be included in regular administration, but feel thatthe question needs more detailed investigation and recommendthat it should be undertaken by the Provincial Government.The portion of the Balipara Frontier Tract round Charduarshould be subjected to a similar examination, and theheadquarters of the Political Officer of this tract shouldbe shifted into the hills as early as possible.
(c) Posa Payments. - Certain payment are being made atpresent to the tribes on the North East Frontier. In theBalipara Frontier Tract payments called posa which total inall to about Rs. 10,000 per year, and certain customarypresents are paid. These are vestigial payments of sumswhich the tribes used to claim in the days of the Ahom kingswhether by way of quid pro quo for keeping the peace on theborder and not raiding the plains or in recognition of acustomary claim on the local inhabitants or territory. Onthe Tirap Frontier a payment of Rs. 450 per year is made tothe Chief of Namsang as lease money for a tea garden. Wehave considered the question whether these payments shouldbe continued in view of the costly development schemes beingundertaken, and have come to the conclusion that it would bea mistake to stop them. The effect upon the tribes of such astep would be the feeling that the first act of the newGovernment was adverse to them and the result of anydisaffection in this area might seriously jeopardise ouraims of establishing administration and bringing the tribes,who are well disposed at present, into the fold ofcivilisation within our boundaries. The payments arenegligibly small in comparison with the large sums of moneyrequired for these areas and we recommend that they shouldcontinue unchanged at any rate till there is a suitableopportunity for a review of the position.
21. REPRESENTATION -
(a) Adult Franchise. - The partially excluded areas arealready represented in the provincial legislature. In theGaro Hill Mikir Hills the franchise as already stated is arestricted one. The excluded areas have no representation atpresent. So far as the frontier tracts tribal areas areconcerned they have no representation and the circumstancesare such that until it is declared that an area is or can bebrought under regular administration, representation cannotbe provided. We are of opinion that examination should bemade as soon as possible of this question in view of thevery clear desire expressed by the Abor, Hkampti and othersfor representation. Meanwhile, we are of the view that thereis no longer any justification for the exclusion of theNaga, Lushai and North Cachar Hills and that these areasshould be represented in the provincial legislature. Therestriction on the franchise in the Garo and Mikir Hillsshould be removed and, if there is universal adult franchiseelsewhere, that system should be applied to all these Hills.We would note here that our colleagues from the Lushai Hillsexpressed some doubts about the feasibility of adultfranchise in the Lushai Hills and seemed to prefer householdfranchise. We do not anticipate any real difficulty in adultfranchise here if it is feasible elsewhere but wouldrecommend that the position of the Lushai Hills may beconsidered by the appropriate body which deals with thequestion of franchise.
(b) Provincial Representation. - As regards the numberof representatives of the Hill Districts in the provinciallegislature, we are of the view that if the principle ofweightage is recognised for any community, the case of thehill people should receive appropriate
consideration in thatrespect. Though we do not propose that there should be anyweightage for the hill people as a principle, we are clearthat the number of representatives for each of the HillDistricts should not be less in proportion to the totalnumber than the ratio of the population of the district tothe total population even though this may, in some cases,mean a slightly weighted representation in practice. In thedraft provincial constitution we find that it is providedthat the scale of representationin the provincial Assembly is not to exceed onerepresentative for every lakh of the population. On thisbasis, the Hill Districts would, according to the minimumrecommended by us, obtain representation as follows: -
Khasi & Jaintia Hills 2 105,463Garo Hills 3 223,569Mikir Hills 2 149,746Naga Hills 2 189,641Lushai Hills 2 152,786North Cachar Hills 1 37,361- - - - - - - - TOTAL 12 858,566- - - - - - - -
It will be seen if the total population of the Hills istaken, the number of representatives for all the Hills willbe somewhat in excess of the number which would be arrivedat on the basis of one representative for each lakh of thepopulation. We are not only of the view that in the specialcircumstances of the Hills, representatives as recommendedby us is necessary to provide proper representation but thatthe excess should not be adjusted to the detriment of therest of Assam out of the total number admissible underSection 19(2) of the Draft Provincial Constitution. We haveprovided accordingly that in reckoning the number ofrepresentatives for the rest of Assam, the population andthe number of representatives for the rest of Assam, thepopulation and the number of representatives of the Hillsshall not be taken into account. We contemplate that theKhasi and Jaintia Hills should include the Municipality andCantonment of Shillong which is at present a generalconstituency. This will be an exception to the provisionbarring non-tribals from election in the Hillconstituencies.
(c) Federal Legislature. - The total population of theHill Districts given above clearly justifies a seat for theHill Tribes in the Federal Legislature on the scale proposedin Section 13(c) of the Draft Union Constitution.
(d) Joint Electorate. - The Hill Districts have thissimple feature, that their populations are almost entirelytribal. In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills (a pocket of Mikirexcepted) in the Garo Hills, the Mikir Hills (some Rengmaand Kuki excepted) the population is uniform. In the NagaHills, among the different tribes like the Angami, Ao, Sema,there is now the beginning of a feeling of unity. The NagaHills District has a population of 1.85 lakhs and is likelyto get two representatives at least which might enable theallocation of one each to the two main centres of Kohima andMokokchung. In the North Cachar Hills the position is lesssatisfactory but in all these areas we consider that theelectorate should be joint for all the tribes and non-tribals residing there. In view of the preponderance oftribal people we consider that no reservation of seats isnecessary and the only condition which we propose is thatthe constituencies should not overlap across the boundariesof the district (in the case of North Cachar, thesubdivision).
(e) Non-Tribals Barred. - We have considered thequestion of non-tribals residing permanently in the hills.Some of these have been in residence for more than onegeneration and may well claim the right to stand forelection but we find that the feeling against allowing themto stand for election is extremely strong. It is felt thateven though in a predominantly tribal constituency thechances are all in favour of a tribal candidate, the non-tribals, in view of their greater financial strength cannullify this advantage. We recommend therefore that plainspeople should not be eligible for election to the provinciallegislature from the Hill Constituencies.
22. THE PROVINCIAL MINISTRY -
That the Hills can already provide representative whocan take part in the provincial administration is obvious.On four
occasions residents of the Khasi Hills have occupieda place in the provincial Executive Council or Cabinet. Thehitherto excluded Lushai and Naga Hills have the samepotentiality. With Ministers from the Hills in the Cabinetit may be expected indeed that their interests will not beneglected. The doubts raised are: will there necessarily bea Minister from the Hills even when a suitable person isavailable? If not who will look after interest of the Hills?The Hill areas contain close upon a million people and inview of the great importance of the frontier hills inparticular, it would be wise of any Ministry to make a pointof having at least one colleague from the Hills. It is ourconsidered view that representation for the Hills should beguaranteed by statutory provision if possible. If this isnot possible, we are of the view that a suitable instructionshould be provided in the instrument of instructions orcorresponding provision. The development of the Hillshowever is a matter which requires special attention in theinterests of the province and we feel that if thecircumstances necessitate it, the Governor should be in aposition to appoint a special Minister who should, ifpossible, be from among the hill people. In this connectionwe would refer to the need for a special development planwhich we have referred to in Para. *16(b).
23. THE SERVICES -
A good deal of discussion has centred round the problemof providing suitable officials for the hills. The number ofsuitably qualified candidates from the hill peoplethemselves has been inadequate hitherto and the utilisationof other candidates has of course been found necessary. Nospecial service has been considered necessary for the hills.On the other hand there has been a certain amount of feelingagainst the plains officials notably question carefully andcome to the conclusion that no separate service for theHills is desirable or necessary and that there should befree interchange between hill and non-hill officials, atleast in the higher cadres of the provincial and All IndiaServices. The District Councils will doubtless appoint alltheir staff from their own people and to preventinterchangeability would be tantamount to perpetuatingexclusion as our proposals involve a good deal of separationalready. We recommend therefore that while non-tribalofficials should be eligible for posting to the hills andvice versa should be selected with care. We also recommendthat in recruitment the appointment of a due proportion ofhill peoples should be particularly kept in mind andprovided for in rules or executive instructions of theProvincial Government.
24. A COMMISSION -
We have referred to the need for special attention tothe development of the Hills. No statutory provision for theearmarking of adequate funds is considered possible. On theother hand, the Hill Councils recommended by us will havefar greater powers than local bodies in plains districts.The Hills occupy a position of strategic importance and itis in our opinion of great importance for constant touch to be maintained with the development and administration of these areas. For this purpose we consider that there shouldbe provision for the appointment of a Commission, on whichwe expect that there will be representatives of the tribes,to examine the state of affairs periodically and report. Werecommend that there should be provision to appoint theCommission ad hoc or permanently and that the Governor of the province should have the responsibility and power forappointing it. The report of the Commission should enablethe Government to watch the progress of the development planand take such other administrative action as may benecessary.
25. PLAINS TRIBALS -
The total tribal population of Assam was shown in theCensus of 1941 as 2,484,996. The excluded and partiallyexcluded areas contribute to this only 863,248. About 1.6million tribals therefore live in the plains including thosewho work as tea-gardens labour. The terms of our enquiry arethat we report on a scheme of administration for the tribaland excluded areas and
the question of tribes people in theplains strictly does not concern us.
Reference to para. is to para. in the original report.
Their case will doubtless be dealt with by the MinoritiesSub-Committee. The population of the plains tribals which isbeing gradually assimilated to the population of the plains,should for all practical purposes be treated as a minority.Measures of protection for their land are also in our viewnecessary. At present certain seats are reserved in theprovincial legislature for them. The question of theirrepresentation and protection will we hope be considered bythe Minorities Sub-Committee. We have kept in mind howeverthe possibility of there being certain areas inhabited bytribals in the plains or at the foot of the hills whom itmay be necessary to provide for in the same manner [SeeClause* A (3) of Appendix A].
26. BOUNDARIES -
All the Hills people have expressed a desire for therectification of district boundaries so that people of thesame tribe are brought under a common administration. Wesympathise with this desire but find that it is only outsideour terms of reference but also that it would necessitate anamount of examination which would make it impossible for usto submit our report to the Advisory Committee in time. Thepresent boundaries have, we find, been in existence for manyyears and we feel that there is time for a separatecommission set up by the Provincial Government to work onthe problems involved. An exception should however be thecase of the Barpathar and Sarupathar mauzas included in theMikir Hills which the Provincial Government have alreadydecided should be removed from the category of excluded andadded to the regularly administered areas (see memorandum ofGovernment of Assam). We agree with this recommendation andpropose that it should be given effect when the newConstitution comes into force.
27. NON-TRIBAL RESIDENTS-
In the Hill Districts, a certain number of non-tribalpeople reside as permanent residents. They generally follownon-agricultural professions but some cultivate land also.We have recommended that these residents should not beeligible to stand for election to the provinciallegislature. It is necessary however to provide them withrepresentation in the local council if they are sufficientlynumerous. We contemplate that constituencies may be formedfor the local councils if the number of residents is notbelow 500 and that non-tribal constituencies should beformed where this is justified.
28. DRAFT PROVISIONS-
For the sake of convenience we have condensed most ofour recommendations into the forms of a draft of provisionsin roughly legal form and this draft will be found as anappendix to this part. The draft also contains certainincidental provisions including finance not referred to inthis report.
29. TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS-
Reference has been made to the constitutions drafted inthe different district for their local councils. This is ofcourse the expression of the strong desire for autonomy inthe Hill District. Rather more important however are theindividualities of the different tribes and the distinctnessof their customers and social systems. If the tribes areallowed to decide the composition and powers of their owncouncils it will doubtless afford them the maximum ofsentimental satisfaction and conduce also to the erection of a mechanism suited without question for their own needs andpurposes. While therefore it will be necessary in theexisting conditions for the Governor of Assam (as thefunctionary who will carry on the administration till thenew constitution comes into force) to frame provisionalrules for holding elections and constituting the councils.We recommend that the councils thus convened should beprovisional councils (one year) and that they should frametheir own constitution and regulations for the future.
* Reference to clause is to clause in the originalreport.
APPENDIX A* TO PART OF NORTH-EAST FRONTIER (ASSAM) TRIBAL AND EXCLUDED AREAS SUB-COMMITTEE REPORT
The areas included in Schedule* A to this Partshall be autonomous districts.
(2) An autonomous district may be divided intoautonomous regions.
(3) Subject to the provisions of section P theGovernment of Assam may from time to time notify any areanot included in the said schedule as an autonomous districtor as included in an autonomous district and the provisionsof this Part shall thereupon apply to such area as if it wasincluded in the said schedule.
(4) Except in pursuance of a resolution passed by theDistrict Council of an autonomous district in this behalfthe Government of Assam shall not notify any districtspecified or deemed to be specified in the schedule or partof such district, as ceasing to be an autonomous district ora part thereof.
B (1) There shall be a District Council for each of theareas specified in Schedule* A. The Council shall have notless than twenty nor more than forty members, of whom notless than three-fourths shall be elected by universal adultfranchise.
Note. - If adult franchise is not universally adoptedthis provision will have to be altered.
(2) The constituencies for the elections to theDistrict Council shall be so constituted if practicable thatthe different tribals or non-tribals, if any, inhabiting thearea shall elect a representative from among their own tribeor group:
Provided that no constituency shall be formed with atotal population of less than 500.
(3) If there are different tribes inhabiting distinctareas within an autonomous district, there shall be aseparate Regional Council for each such area or group of areas that may so desire.
(4) The District Council in an autonomous district withRegional Council shall have such powers as may be delegatedby the Regional Council in addition to the powers conferredby this constitution.
(5) The District or the Regional Council may framerules regarding (a) the conduct of future elections, thecomposition of the Council, the office bearers who may beappointed, the manner of their election and other incidentalmatters, (b) the conduct of business, (c) the appointment ofstaff, (d) the formation and functioning of subordinatelocal councils or boards, (e) generally all matterspertaining to the administration of subjects entrusted to itor falling within its powers:
Provided that the Deputy Commissioner or the Sub-divisional officer as the case may be of the Mikir and theNorth Cachar Hills shall be the Chairman ex-officio of theDistrict Council and shall have for a period of six yearsafter the constitution of the Council, powers subject to thecontrol of the Government of Assam to annul or modify anyresolution or decision of the District Council or to issuesuch instructions as he may consider appropriate.
C (1). The Regional Council, or if there is no RegionalCouncil, the District Council, shall have power to make lawsfor the area under its jurisdiction regarding (a) allotment,occupation or use for agricultural, residential or othernon-agricultural purposes, or setting apart for grazing,cultivation, residential or
* References to appendices and schedules are toappendices and schedules in the original reports.
other purposes ancillary to the life of the village or town,of land other than land classed as reserved forest under theAssam Forest Regulation, 1891 or other law on the subjectapplicable to the district.
Provided that land required by the Government of Assamfor public purposes shall be allotted free of cost ifvacant, or if occupied, on payment of due compensation inaccordance with the law relating to the acquisition of land,(b) the management of any forest which is not a reserveforest, (c) the use of canal or water courses for thepurposes of agriculture, (d) controlling, prohibiting orpermitting the practice of jhum or other forms of shiftingcultivation, (e) the establishment of village or towncommittees and council and their powers, (f) all othermatters relating to village or town management, sanitation,watch and ward.
(2) The Regional Council or if there is no RegionalCouncil, the
District Council shall also have powers to makelaws regarding (a) the appointment or succession of chiefsor headmen, (b) inheritance of property, (c) marriage andall other social customs.
D (1) Save as provided in Section F the RegionalCouncil, or if there is no Regional Council, the DistrictCouncil, or a court constituted by it in this behalf shallhave all the powers of a final court of appeal in respect ofcases or suits between parties, all of whom belong to hilltribes, in its jurisdiction.
(2) The Regional Council, or if there is no RegionalCouncil the District Council, may set up Village Councils orCourts for the hearing and disposal of disputes or casesother than cases tribal under the provisions of Section F,or cases arising out of laws passed by it in the exercise ofits powers, and may also appoint such officials as may benecessary for the administration of its laws.
E. The District Council of an autonomous district shallhave the powers to establish or manage primary schools,dispensaries, markets, cattle pounds, ferries, fisheries,roads and waterways and in particular may prescribe thelanguage and manner in which primary education shall beimparted.
F (1). For the trial of acts which constitute offencespunishable with imprisonment for five years or more or withdeath, or transportation for life under the Indian PenalCode or other law applicable to the district or of suitsarising out of special laws or in which one or more of theparties are non-tribals, the Government of Assam may confersuch powers under the Criminal Procedure Code or CivilProcedure Code as the case may be on the Regional Council,the District Council or Courts constituted by them or anofficer appointed by the Government of Assam as it deemsappropriate and such courts shall try the offences or suitsin accordance with the Code of Criminal Procedure or CivilProcedure as the case may be.
(2) The Government of Assam may withdraw or modifypowers conferred on the Regional Council or District Councilor any court or office under this section.
(3) Save as provided in this section the CriminalProcedure Code and the Civil Procedure Code shall not applyto the autonomous district.
Note. - "Special Laws" - Laws of the type of the law ofcontract, company law or insurance etc. are contemplated.
G (1). There shall be constituted a District orRegional Fund into which shall be credited all moneysreceived by the District Council or Regional Council as thecase may be in the course of its administration or in thedischarge of its responsibilities.
(2) Rules approved by the Comptroller of Assam shall bemade for the management of the Fund by the District orRegional Council and management of the Fund shall be subjectto these rules.
H (1). A Regional Council, or if there is no RegionalCouncil the District Council shall have the following powersof taxation:
(a) subject to the general principles of assessmentapproved in this behalf for the rest of Assam, land revenue,(b) poll tax or house tax.
(2) The District Council shall have powers to imposethe following taxes, that is to say (a) a tax onprofessions, trades or calling, (b) a tax on animals,vehicles, (c) toll tax (d) market dues, (e) ferry dues, (f)cesses for the maintenance of schools, dispensaries orroads.
(3) A Regional Council or District Council may makerules for the imposition and recovery of the taxes withinits financial powers.
I (1). The Government of Assam shall not grant anylicence or lease to prospect for or extract minerals withinan autonomous district save in consultation with theDistrict Council.
(2) Such share of the royalties accuring from licencesor leases for minerals as may be agreed upon shall be madeover to the District Council. In default of agreement suchshare as may be determined by the Governor in his discretionshall be paid.
J (1). The District Council may for the purpose ofregulating the profession of moneylending or trading by non-tribals in a manner detrimental to the interests of thetribals make rules applicable to the district or any portionof it: (a)
prescribing that except the holder of a licenceissued by the Council in this behalf no person shall carryon moneylending, (b) prescribing the maximum rate ofinterest which may be levied by a moneylender, (c) providingfor the maintenance of accounts and for their inspection byits officials, (d) prescribing that no non-tribal shallcarry on wholesale or retail business in any commodityexcept under a licence issued by the district council inthis behalf:
Provided that no such rules may be made unless theDistrict Council approves of the rules by a majority of notless than three-fourths of its members:
Provided further that a licence shall not be refused tomoneylenders and dealer carrying on business at the time of the making of the rules.
K (1). The number of members representing an autonomousdistrict in the Provincial Legislature shall bear at leastthe same proportion to the population of the district as thetotal number of members in that Legislature bears to thetotal population of Assam.
(2) The total number of representatives allotted to theautonomous districts (which may at any time be specified inSchedule A*) in accordance with Sub-section (1) of thisSection shall not be taken into account in reckoning thetotal number of representatives to be allotted to the restof the Province under the provisions ofSection............of the Provincial Constitution.
(3) No constituencies shall be formed for the purposeof election to the Provincial Legislature which includeportions of other autonomous districts or other areas norshall any non-tribal be eligible for election except in theconstituency which includes the Cantonment and Municipalityof Shillong.
L (1) Legislation passed by the provincial legislaturein respect of (a) any of the subjects specified in section Cor
(b) prohibiting or restricting the consumption of anynon-distilled alcoholic liquor, shall not apply to anautonomous district.
(2) A Regional Council of an autonomous district or ifthere is no Regional Council, the District Council may applyany such law to the area under its jurisdiction, with orwithout modification.
M. The revenue and expenditure pertaining to anautonomous district which is credited to or met from thefunds of the Government of Assam shall be shown separatelyin the annual financial statement of the Province of Assam.
* Reference to schedule is to schedule in the originalreport.
N. There shall be paid out of the revenues of theFederation to the Government of Assam such capital andrecurring sums as may be necessary to enable thatGovernment - (a) to meet the average excess of expenditureover the revenue during the three years immediatelypreceding the commencement of this constitution in respectof the administration of the areas specified in Schedule A;and (b) to meet the cost of such schemes of development asmay be undertaken by the Government with the approval of theFederal Government for the purpose of raising the level of administration of the aforesaid areas to that of the rest of the province.
O (1). The Governor of Assam may at any time institutea commission specifically to examine and report on anymatter relating to the administration or, generally at suchintervals as he may prescribe, on the administration of theautonomous districts generally and in particular on (a) theprovision of educational and medical facilities andcommunications (b) the need for any new or speciallegislation, and (c) the administration of the District orRegional Councils and the laws or rules made by them.
(2) The report of such a commission with therecommendations of the Governor shall be placed before theprovincial legislature by the Minister concerned with anexplanatory memorandum regarding the action taken orproposed to be taken on it.
(3) The Governor may appoint a special Minister for theAutonomous Districts.
P (1). The Government of Assam may, with the approvalof the Federal Government, by notification make theforegoing provisions or any of them applicable to any areaspecified in Schedule
B* to this part, or to a part thereof;and may also, with the approval of the Federal Government,exclude any such area or part thereof from the saidSchedule.
(2) Till a notification is issued under this section,the administration of any area specified in Schedule B* orof any part thereof shall be carried on by the UnionGovernment through the Government of Assam as its agent.
Q (1). The Governor of Assam in his discretion may, ifhe is satisfied that any act or resolution of a Regional orDistrict Council is likely to endanger the safety of India,amend or suspend such act or resolution and take such stepsas he may consider necessary (including dissolution of theCouncil and the taking over of its administration) toprevent the commission or continuation of such act or givingeffect to such resolution.
(2) The Governor shall place the matter before thelegislature as soon as possible and the legislature mayconfirm or set aside the declaration of the Governor.
R. The Governor of Assam may on the recommendation of acommission set up by him under section N order thedissolution of a Regional or District Council and directeither that fresh election should take place immediately, orwith the approval of the legislature of the province, placethe administration of the area directly under himself or thecommission or other body considered suitable by him, duringthe interim period or for a period not exceeding twelvemonths:
Provided that such action shall not be taken withoutaffording an opportunity to the District or Regional Councilto be heard by the provincial legislature and shall not betaken if the provincial legislature is opposed to it.
Governor to carry on administration as under the 1935Act till a Council is set up, he should take action toconstitute the first District Council or Regional Counciland frame provisional rules in consultation with existingtribal Councils
* Reference to Schedule is to Schedule in the originalreport.
or other representative organisations, for the conduct of the elections, prescribed who shall be the office bearers,etc. The term of the first Council to be one year.
GOPINATH BARDOLOI (Chairman). J. J. M. NICHOLS-ROY. RUP NATH BRAHMA.
The Khasi and Jaintia Hills District excluding the townof Shillong.
The Garo Hills District.
The Lushai Hills District.
The Naga Hills District.
The North Cachar Sub-division of the Cachar District.
The Mikir Hills portion of Nowgong and SibsagarDistrict excepting the mouzas of Barpathar and Sarupathar.
The Sadiya and Balipara Frontier Tracts.
The Tirap Frontier Tract (excluding the Lakhimpur Frontier Tract).
The Naga Tribal Area.
Copy of Notification No. 1-X, dated the 1st April 1937,from the Government of India in the External AffairsDepartment.
In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1)of Section 123, read with sub-section (3) of Section 313, of the Government of India Act, 1935, the Governor General inCouncil is pleased to direct the Governor of Assam todischarge as his agent, in and in relation to the tribalareas beyond the external boundaries of the Province of assam, all functions hitherto discharged in and in relationto the said areas by the said Governor as Agent to theGovernor-General in respect of the political control of thetrans-border tribes, the administration of the said areasand the administration of the Assam Rifles and other armedcivil forces.
REPORT OF THE NORTH-EAST FRONTIER (ASSAM) TRIBAL AND EXCLUDED AREAS SUB-COMMITTEE
1. THE BALIPARA FRONTIER TRACT -
This is the tract between the Subansiri River on theeast, Bhutan on the west and the MacMahon Line to the north,with its headquarters at Charduar about 20 miles fromTezpur. It is included in the Schedule to the Government ofIndia (Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas) Order as anExcluded Area, but in practice it is administered by theGovernor of Assam as the Agent to the
Government of Indiaand is treated in this respect as a tribal area. The portionimmediately to the north of Charduar and up to the InnerLine is a plains portion the area of which isestimated to be approximately 1,000 square miles. Thecensused portion of the area was 571 square miles and thepopulation of 6,512 contained only 560 Dafla, the remainingnumber of 2323 persons enumerated as Assam tribes consistingof Cachari, Garo, Mikir and Miri. The area beyond the InnerLine is estimated to cover about 11,000 square miles andcontain a population of approximately 350,000. Foradministrative purposes it is at present divided into twoparts, the Balipara or Sela Agency and the Subansiri Areaunder two Political Officers. Particularly in the SubansiriArea there are portions which have not yet been explored byour officers, and the details of the tribes living there arestill not fully known. In the Sela area administration hasbeen extended as far as Dirang Dzong and this area containstribes like the Momba, Sillung, Aka or Rhuso, Senjithonji.The Subansiri area is inhabited largely by Dafla (Nisu) andApatani but large areas have yet to be visited and explored.
In the western portions of the tract the way of life of the tribes is influenced a good deal by Tibetan customs andBuddhist monastaries but in the eastern sector the peopleare much more primitive. Some terraced cultivation andorange gardens exist but people like the Aka depend onjhuming. Literacy among the tribes seems to be very poor inspite of the influence of monastaries. Except among theMomba there is little demand even for education. For theirrequirements of cloth and salt notably the inhabitantsdepend upon contact with the plains areas or with theTibetans. The monastery at Towing exercises considerableinfluence over the lives of these tribes and puts forwardclaims to monastic taxation. The tribes keep poultry, pigs,goats and mithun. In the olden days some chiefs hereapparently used to exercise a kind of right of levying taxesin plains villages. This appears to have been recognised bythe Ahom Kings who allowed relief to the people liable tosuch taxes from other taxes to a corresponding extent. Inconnection with these levies an agreement* was entered intoby the British Government for the payment of an annualsubsidy, known as posa. Rs. 5,000 are paid to the TalungDzongpons and the Sat Rajas of Kalaktang and some bottles ofrum and cloth also are given. The tribes in return alsogiven certain presents like ebony, a gold ring, two Chinesecups, two yak tails and two blankets. Similar payments ofposa are made to the Chaduar Bhutia or Sherdukpen,Thembangia Bhutia, Aka and certain other tribes. Payments tothe Dafla and Miri are however made only to freemen and inall cases cease on the death of the present holder. Thetotal payment of posa comes to about 10,000 rupees per year.Maintenance of law and order in this area as well as defenceagainst external encroachment is looked after by the postsoccupied by the Assam Rifles.
Though some of the witnesses who appeared before uscould speak Assamese and appeared to be intelligent, we areinclined to agree with the Political Officer's view thatuntil the five-year plan which provides for an expansion ofschools and communications has been given effect, there islikely to be little material in this Tract particularly inthe Subansiri Area, for local self-governing institutions.For some time the problems of administration here mustremain confined largely to the maintenance of peace amongthe tribes, prevention of encroachment and oppression byTibetan tax collectors, extension of communications, andelementary facilities for obtaining medicine and primaryeducation. Tibetan officials are known to have set up tradeblocks with a view to compelling trade with Tibet ratherthan India and the removal of these obstructions is a matterwhich may involve political contact with Tibetanauthorities. As already pointed out large areas are as yetterra incognita to our officers and the attitude of thetribes is one of fear or suspicion which may
* Clause IV of Agreement No. XLIV of 1888 with theKapaschor or Kavatsun Akas runs as follows: - The "posa" weshall receive from Government is in lieu of the due weformerly levied on the Assamese inhabitants of the plains,and that we have no right to receive any food, service, duesor other token of superiority from any receipt in Britishterritory.... Aitcheson Vol. XII.
easily turn to hostility. It is clear however that thesouthern portions of the tract will develop earlier than thenorthern most portions and administration of the politicalagency type can therefore be gradually shifted northwards.The Political officers' view is that the time is not yetripe for shifting his headquarters from Charduar to a placein the hills. The area round Charduar which is in the plainsportion is inhabited mostly by non-tribals or detribalisedpeople of tribal origin. The question of bringing it underregular administration needs therefore to be examined indetail by the Provincial Government. What we contemplate isthat areas over which adequate control has been establishedshould be brought under the regular provincialadministration while areas further north remain under thecontrol of the Central Government, as at present. The Centreshould however administer the tract through the ProvincialGovernment as its agent so that the Provincial Governmentremains in contact with the administration*.
We are also of the view that steps should be taken assoon as practicable to erect boundary pillars on the traderoutes to Tibet at places where they intersect the MacMahonLine.
The payments of posa represent a small amount and thesentimental value attached to it and the probability thatany cessation of it concurrently with the coming into forceof the new constitution would have most undesirableconsequences on the attitude of the tribes, should be keptin mind. It should clearly not be discontinued for thepresent.
2. THE SADIYA FRONTIER TRACT -
The Sadiya Frontier Tract is the tract between theSubansiri river on the west and the boundary of the TirapFrontier Tract on the north-east. The latter boundary hasbeen adjusted from time to time. The Frontier areacomprising the Sadiya and Tirap Frontier Tracts is somewhatin the shape of a parabola which contains the area throughwhich the Brahmaputra river with its tributaries deboucheson to the plains. The Sadiya tract may be regarded asfalling into two or three distinct portions. To begin with,there is the portion to the west consisting of the valley of the Dibang or Siang with Abor tribes like Minyong, Bori,Galong, Padam. The Valley of the Dibang in the centre coversthe area inhabited by Idu or Chulikata Mishmi, and thevalley of the Lohit is inhabited by Digaru and other Mishmiand certain Hkampti and Miri tribes. Included in these threebroad divisions is the plains portion of the tract (whichincludes Saikhoaghat on the south bank of the Lohit river)which runs up to the foot of the hill (roughly along theInner Line). As in the case of the Balipara tract, regularadministration has yet to be established in portions up tothe MacMahon Line, which itself needs to be demarcated bythe erection of boundary pillars at least at the pointswhere the trade routes cross into India. The headquarters of the Political Officer is at Sadiya and there is an AssistantPolitical Officer at Pasighat.
The Assistant Political Officer of the Lohit Valleystays at Sadiya and his jurisdiction includes the Chulikataor Idu Mishmi in the north and the Digaru and others towardsthe east and south of the tract. There are no easy lateralcommunications between the Chulikata area and the LohitValley proper.
By inhabitants, the hill tract falls broadly intoportions inhabited by Abor (Siang Valley) the Chulikata inthe Dibang Valley and other Mishmi in the Lohit Valley, andthe Hkampti or Shan who are a comparatively civilised tribefollowing Buddhism. In addition there is the mixedpopulation of the Sadiya portion to the south of Inner Linecontaining non-tribals and some Miri. Although the GallongAbor are somewhat different from the
Padam and Minyong thelanguages are practically the same and the whole of the Abor
* See Assam Government's Factual Memorandum on page 70of Excluded and Partially Excluded Areas - I (C. A.Pamphlet); all references to pages are to pages in originalreports.
Tract could be regarded as reasonably uniform. The Mishmiarea, though it falls into two separate portions along theDibang and Lohit Rivers respectively, and the tribes do notunderstand one anothers language, could be treated as one.The Hkampti area which is the third one is small and theSadiya population is a mixed one. The area beyond the InnerLine which is not censused is estimated to contain 250,000Abor 40,000 Idu, 25,000 Digaru and Miji and about 2,000Hkampti. The censused portion is an area of 3,309 squaremiles with a total population of 60,118 of which 39,974 areof tribal origin.
The total area of the tract may be in the neighbourhoodof 15,000 square miles and its development andadministration clearly necessitate the sub-division of thetract and the appointment of more officials. In fact thePolitical Officer has already recommended the division of the tract into two portions based on Pasighat and Sadiyarespectively. This is roughly equivalent to a division intothe Mishmi area and the Abor area respectively and theproposals under consideration at present seem to contemplatethe posting of a Political Officer at Sadiya for the MishmiAgency with an Assistant with headquarters at Walong (LohitValley) and a second Political Officer at Pasighat (now theheadquarters of an A.P.O.). The main reason for keepingSadiya as the headquarters for the Mishmi Agency wouldappear to be the lack of lateral communications between theChulikata area in the Dibang Valley and the Digaru area inthe Lohit Valley. It is clear however that Sadiya and theportion up to the Inner Line is in the plains and contains amixed population. Cultivation in this tract is also settledand the people of the tract desire that it should notcontinue under the present system of exclusion. Moreover,there is the area occupied by the Hkampti who are settledcultivators professing Buddhism which has also spread a gooddeal of literacy among them. Prima facie there is a strongcase for treating the plains portion of the tract as well asthe Hkampti portion as regularly administered areas in theform perhaps of a separate subdivision or district. Thedistinctness of the Hkampti must however be borne in mindand the area will probably have to be treated as a separatetaluk. An early and detailed examination of the wholequestion is clearly called for. If Sadiya is treated asplain, suitable headquarters for the Political officer of the Mishmi Area needs to be looked for keeping in mind thedifficulties of communication between the Dibang and Lohitvalleys.
With the exception of the Hkamptis who are settledcultivators, and may be regarded as comparatively civilised,and a few people in the plains portion who also do settledcultivation, the Abor and Mishmi pursue jhuming and appearto exhibit little competence in the art of raising crops.They of course eke out a livelihood by keeping poultry,sheep and mithun. The herds of mithun kept by these tribesare in fact the occasion for disputes between people asraiding for mithun seems to be in this area what head-hunting is in the Naga tribal area. Serious quarrels arisingout of raiding for mithun may call for the intervention of the Political officer. The tribes are generally heavilyaddicted to opium and attempts to keep the growth andconsumption of opium in check seem to be meeting with littlesuccess. Though we feel that the Abor and Mishmi are peoplewho can be educated and assimilated to civilisedadministration in a comparatively short time, there islittle literacy or education among them at present, and thedepth of the area over which control has been establishedbeyond the Inner Line does not seems to be great.Communications are the urgent need so that greater contactis possible event if the lack of education is regarded as noimpediment. By the time the
five year plan has been workedout (it contemplates the making of a road to Walong andimprovement of communications in other respects also) it maybe possible to give effect to the keenly expressed desireamong the Abors of a share in the provincial administration.It is obvious that the pace of establishment of full-fledgedadministration in this area should be accelerated. Abeginning should however be possible by way of politicaleducation of the people, if tribal councils are setup to enable the different tribes to come together todiscuss matters of mutual interest and understand theproblems of administration.
The forests of this tract can produce a good revenuebut land revenue in the plains portions amounts to about50,000 and the poll tax which is also levied in this areaamounts to about 15,000. This forest revenue in 1946-47 was430,000.
3. THE LAKHIMPUR AND TIRAP FRONTIER TRACTS -
The exact position, legal and de facto is not clear.The Lakhmipur Frontier Tract is mentioned as one of theNorth-East Frontier Tracts scheduled as an excluded area. Nofrontier has as yet been laid down between Burma and Indiain this region. There is an area locally known as theLakhmipur Frontier Tract which is treated as an excludedarea with the Deputy Commissioner, Lakhmipur, as the Agentor Political Officer. The Tirap Frontier Tract, whichapparently derives its name from the river of that name, issaid at present to contain a number of villages added to itfrom the Lakhmipur Frontier Tract during the war, and therest of the portion inhabited by Naga tribes towards theBurmese territory. In addition to the Tirap Frontier Tractthe Political Officer, whose headquarters are at present inMargherita in Lakhmipur district, is also in charge of aportion of the Naga Tribal Area which stretches along theboundary of the Lakhmipur district till it touches thenorthern apex of the Naga Hills district boundary and thenruns along the eastern boundary of the Naga Hills districtstowards its southern projection towards Burma. The area of the Lakhmipur Frontier Tract as shown in the census is about394 square miles. The area of the Tirap Frontier Tract canof course only be guessed as there is no definite boundarywith Burma. It may be in the neighbourhood of 4,000 squaremiles. In population also the tract differs from part topart. The Lakhmipur Frontier Tract differs "in no way fromthe surrounding plains; possesses none of thecharacteristics of the hill areas and need not be consideredin relation to the problems of the hill tribes". *In theportion of the Lakhimpur Frontier Tract which has now beentaken into the Tirap Frontier Tract there are severalvillages inhabited by Kachins and others who are regarded astribal and pay house tax. In the Tirap Frontier Tract anumber of tribes classed as Naga such as Tikak, Yogli,Ranrang, Lungri, Sank-e, Mosang, Morang etc. reside. Thewhole of the area inhabited by the Naga tribes couldappropriately be regarded as part of India since theeconomic relations of all these tribes are with India andnot with any other country. The demarcation of a boundarywith Burma is to be taken up therefore on this principal andthe question is said to be now under consideration by theGovernment of India. It is obviously a matter which needs to be expedited.
In the northern portion of the Naga Tribal area (whichmay be really regarded as part of the Tirap Frontier, sincefor a considerable distance the boundary of this area runsalong with the eastern boundary of Lakhimpur district) thereare tribes classed as Konyak Naga and the relations of thisarea are also with the plains portion of the Lakhimpurdistrict. For instance it is common for tribes from Namsangand Borduria to come frequently to Jaipur for theirmarketing etc., and a good number of them seem to speakAssamese. T he area is thickly populated. The Singpho orKachin are Buddhists and they had chiefs belonging to theold ruling family before the country was taken over in 1839.The agreements entered into in 1826 and 1836 are a deadletter and though the chiefs are consulted by the
PoliticalOfficer whenever there is any dispute to be settled or othermatter to be dealt with, the Political Officer is beinglooked up to more and more, and the chief is regarded onlyby way of being an adviser to the Political Officer.
* See North East Frontier and Excluded Areas (C. A.Pamphlet) paragraph 5 (c); all references to pages are topages in the original reports.
Agriculture is mostly by the primitive method ofjhuming and there are no educational facilities. Theeconomic condition of the tract is pretty poor. The Kachinhowever are settled cultivators and are in a better positionthan the Naga. In the Naga Tribal Area head hunting is stillpractised and slavery also seems to exist.
For the Tirap Frontier Tract also the five year planapproved by the Government of India contemplates theextension of the benefits of administration. Theheadquarters is proposed to be moved to a place in theinterior called Horukhunma and hospitals and schools are to be constructed. Both in the Tirap Frontier Tract and theNaga tribal area the policy is just the same, namely theextension of administration gradually up to the Burmafrontier. This policy appears to us to be the correct one tofollow, whatever the legal status of the area may be underthe Government of India Act. As in the case of the MacMahonLine frontier, all the portion between the Burmese boundaryand the administered area of Assam should be merged in Assamas soon as possible and the distinction between Tribal Areaand administered Indian territory abolished.
The Lakhimpur Frontier Tract need no longer be treatedas an excluded area. As regards the portions of this tracttaken over into the Tirap Frontier Tract the justificationfor continuing it as a frontier area needs to be furtherexamined and if no difficulty is likely to be caused by theinclusion of the Kachins and other tribes who live there inthe Lakhimpur district the area should be merged in thedistrict. In the rest of the area, steps should be taken toorganise non-statutory tribal councils, panchayats etc., inanticipation of the time when this tract will be fit forinclusion in the provincial administration. For the properadministration of the Naga Hills tribal area it would appeardesirable to provide more officials, and a separate officerwith headquarters as close as possible to the area, if notinside, is necessary. It would appear that there is alreadysanction for a separate Sub-divisional Officer at Mokokchungunder the control of the Deputy Commissioner. Naga Hillsdistrict but the present arrangement by which the tribalarea is shared between the Deputy Commissioner, Kohima, andthe Political Officer. Tirap Frontier Tract, needs to befurther examined. It would perhaps be best to divide theportion into two districts one which will in due courseeither merge with the existing Naga Hills district and forma sub-division thereof or be a Konyak district, and anotherwhich will form a portion of another district under anofficer with headquarters in the present Tirap FrontierTract.
4. NAGA HILLS DISTRICT -
The Naga Hills District is an area of 4,289 squaremiles bounded on the east by the Naga tribal area, on thesouth by Manipur State and on the west by the Sibsagardistrict. The population was given as 189,641 of which184,766 or 97.4 per cent were tribal, at the 1941 census.The district is inhabited by a number of Naga tribes notablythe Angami, the Sema, the Lhota and the Ao. Of these tribesAngami are the most numerous and inhabit the area roundKahana, their number at the 1941 census being slightly over52,000. The Aos are the next numerous numbering over 40,000and the Semas come third with 35,741. These two tribesinhabit the area round Mokokchung which is a separate sub-division of the district, and the Sema also inhabit theregion to the north-west of the Angami country. The tribesspeak different languages and their lingua franca isAssamese or Hindustani. They have also differing customs andtraditions. Areas claimed by the tribe or village arejealously guarded against encroachment and to such an extentin the Naga
Tribal Area that a villager seldom venturesoutside his village boundary. Within the boundary of thedistrict proper there is generally speaking regularadministration though during the war a slightly differentatmosphere might have been introduced. Though thepercentage of literacy among male Naga is about 6 only,quite a good number of these have received high education.Female literacy among the Naga is however negligible, thoughin the Mokokchung Sub-division it was found to be nearlyfour per cent. Literacy seems to be higher in the Mokokchungarea than the Kohima area and the demand for education isalso keener here. As regards economic circumstances a gooddeal of terracing is done in the Angami areas and a numberof Nagas seem to have taken up non-agricultural occupations--the planting of gardens, etc.
It has been mentioned that the district is inhabited bymutually exclusive, diverse tribes. A movement forunification has however been afoot in the last two or threeyears and a body known as the Naga National Council (withsub-councils of the different tribes) was formed in 1945.Though a non-official political organisation, many of itsleaders and members are Government officials and theorganisation has also received official recognition locally.Thus the anomalous position of Government servantsparticipating in political activity exist and in part thissituation is due to the fact, that the educated, influentialand leading elements are Government servants. Though theformation of this Council may be taken as an indication thatthe unity of administration has given a sense of unity tothe different tribes it would perhaps be a mistake tosuppose that there has been any real consolidation, and thetenacity with which the tribes hold on to their ownparticular views of traditions is still a potent factor. Anotable characteristic of Naga* tribes is that decisions intheir tribal councils are taken by general agreement and notby the minority accepting the decisions of the majority.This feature, though perhaps well suited to village affairs,may lead to many an unsatisfactory compromise in matters ofgreater movement.
In June 1946, the Naga National Council passed aresolution expressing their approval of the scheme proposedby the Cabinet Mission in the State Paper of May 16, 1946,and their desire to form part of Assam and India. Theresolution protested against the proposal to group Assamwith Bengal. This resolution and the feeling which promptedit seems to have held the field throughout 1946, and thePremier of Assam who visited the district in November 1946was greeted with the utmost cordiality. Early in 1947 theGovernor of Assam, Sir Andrew Clow, visited the Naga Hillsand advised the Nagas that their future lay with India andwith Assam. Subsequently, towards the end of February 1947,the Naga National Council passed a resolution in which theydesired the establishment of "an Interim Government of Nagaswith financial provisions, for a period of ten years at theend of which the Naga people will be left to choose any formof Government under which they themselves choose to live."This resolution was of course completely different from theprevious one in that it was based on the idea of being aseparate nation and country. Subsequently the Naga NationalCouncil sent another memorandum in which they mentioned a"guardian power" without however stating who should be theguardian power, and it was found that they were extremelyreluctant to express any choice openly between the threepossibilities of the Government of India, the ProvincialGovernment and H.M.G. It would appear that this was theformula on which a general measure of agreement could beobtained among the nagas since there were clear indicationsthat many of them were inclined to take moderate views moreon the lines of the original resolution at Wokha but in viewof the intransigeance of certain other members, probably of the Angami group, they were prevented from doing so.
Subsequent events connected with the visit of H. E. theGovernor to the Naga Hills on the 26th of June 1946 show that the Nagas
have dropped their
* Other tribes have this characteristic also in greateror lesser degree.
extreme demands. The substance of the claims made by theNagas is now to maintain their customary laws and courts,management of their land with its resources, the continuanceof the Regulations by which entry and residence in the Hillscould be controlled and a review of the whole position afterten years.
5. LUSHAI HILLS DISTRICT -
This district has an area of 8,142 square miles andlies to the south of the Surma Valley. It forms a narrowwedge-shaped strip of territory about 70 miles wide in thenorth tapering to almost a point at its southern extremityand separates Burma from the State of Tripura and theChittagong Hill Tracts of Bengal on the east and south-eastrespectively. With the exception of a small area at itssouthern extremity which is inhabited by Lakher tribesmen,the rest of the district is inhabited by the tribes known asLushai or Mizo and found elsewhere in North Cachar sub-division, and Manipur as Kuki. The communications with themain inhabited areas of Aijal (headquarters) and Lungleh aredifficult and there is only a bridal path connecting Aijalwith Silchar. From Serang, near Aijal, communication byriver, along the Dhaleswari, is possible and Demagiri in thesouth is connected with Rangamati in the Chittagong HillTracts, by the Karnaphuli river. There is also a bridal pathconnecting Lungleh with Rangamati. The population of thisdistrict is 152,786 according to the last census and over 96per cent of the population is tribal. The district as awhole is hilly, with a general elevation of between 3,000and 4,000 feet and the slopes are usually quite steep.
Jhuming, with the exception of certain orange gardens,is the common form of cultivation, and terracing and wetcultivation present many difficulties. Spinning and weavingis a common cottage industry, and every woman in a Lushaihousehold spins and weaves for the needs of the family. Mostattractive tapestry work is done in these hills and thedesigns make a very colourful display. Much of the weavingand spinning is done however for personal use and not forsale. The degree of literacy in the area is very high; thereason for it being probably the fact that a largeproportion of the population is Christian and the SundaySchools have assisted the spread of literacy even among theadult men but, apart from a few Government servants, thenumber of people following non-agricultural occupations isnegligible. The general level of intelligence and civilisedbehaviour in this area is high and compares favourably withmost places in the plains.
There are no local self-governing institutions andvillage life is to a great extent dominated by the chief whois generally hereditary *. Formerly the number of chiefs wassmall, probably 50 or 60, but on account of the increase inpopulation and the growth of new villages the present numberis over 300. The chiefs settle disputes in the village, makea distribution of land for jhuming and generally carry outany orders issued to them by the officials including suchwork as collection of taxes. Of late the relations betweenthe chiefs and the people has been rather strained, and itwould appear that one reason for this is the convening of the so-called District Conference by the Superintendent of the Lushai Hills. The "Mizo Union" was started sometime agoby the people (including chiefs also as members) as a non-official organisation, with the consent of theSuperintendent. This organisation seems to have been withouta rival to begin with but in 1946 the Superintendentconvened the District Conference with a membership of 40 ofwhich 20 were commoners and 20 were chiefs. The DistrictConference was supposed to be elected by household franchiseat the rate of one voter for every 10 houses and
* A certain number of non-hereditary appointments havebeen made of late by the Superintendent.
in the first conference, the chiefs and the people hadseparate electorates, that is the people elected their ownrepresentatives and the
chiefs theirs. The conferenceapparently created little enthusiasm and the largerepresentation of chiefs on it must have caused somedissatisfaction. The Superintendent was the President of theconference. Towards Octo ber 1946 this conference seems tohave broken down and was virtually abandonded. Shortlybefore the visit of the Sub-Committee however freshelections were held by the Superintendent. At this electiona change was made in the franchise so that the separateelectorate was abolished and chiefs and commoners votedjointly. The ratio of chiefs and commoners was howevermaintained and on this account the "Mizo Union" decided toboycott the elections with considerable effect on it. Infact it is claimed by the Mizo Union that only two or threehundred voters actually took part in the elections. Howeverthis might be, the convening of the District Conferencewhich was claimed to be an elected body obviously brought itinto rivalry with the Mizo Union, and since the conferencewas supported by the Superintendent, the Mizo Union incurredofficial disfavour. The Superintendent being the Presidentof the conference and the chiefs being largely underofficial control and influence, there was apparentjustification for the suggestion that the DistrictConference was not representative of the views of thepeople. In fact the attitude of the Superintendent gave usvery good reason to believe that the District Conference wascompletely dominated by him and was his mouthpiece. TheSuperintendent himself propounded a scheme before theCommittee the purport of which was that all local affairsshould be managed by a constitutional body elected by thedistrict who would have their own officers appointed bythemselves and that the Government of Assam or of the Unionshould pay only a certain sum of money amounting to thedeficit of the district and enter into an agreementregarding the defence of the district and its externalrelations. To what extent the Superintendent believed thatthe Lushais could actually administer their own affairsefficiently in every matter other than defence is a matterof some doubt because in answer to a question whether hethought that the whole administration could be managed bythem, he replied "I will not guarantee that it could bedone". (See p. - Vol. II Evidence). In answer to a furtherquestion he gave it as his opinion that it would not be verylong before the district could manage its own affairs andthat the length of the period would depend upon whetherthere was interference from outside by bodies that are toopowerful or not. The general impressions gathered by usduring our discussions with representatives of variousinterests in the district was that, with the exception of afew people who are under the influence of theSuperintendent, the attitude of the rest was reasonable andit would not be long before disruptive ideas prevailing nowcompletely disappear.
The main emphasis in the demands of the Lushais waslaid on the protection of the land, the prevention ofexploitation by outsiders and the continuance of their localcustoms and language.
The district has a revenue of about 2 lakhs and anexpenditure amounting to about six lakhs. A high school hasrecently been started. The Assam Rifles are stationed atAijal and Lungleh.
6. THE NORTH CACHAR HILLS SUB-DIVISION -
This area is a sub-division of the Cachar districtwhose headquarters is Silchar. It is an area of 1,888 squaremiles inhabited by 37.361 people of which 31,529 weretribals, the remainder being accounted for by the variousrailway and other colonies of outsiders. The main feature ofthis sub-division is that it contains a number of differenttribes
+ There were incidents earlier leading to the seizureof the Mizo Union's funds by the Superintendents.
namely the Cachari, the Naga, the Kuki and Mikir; a smallnumber of Synteng or Khasi also inhabit the area. Thegeneral characteristic is that the tribes named above, withthe exception of one or two villages of Naga inhabited by afew Kuki, live in areas of their own and there is nointermingling of population of the
different tribes in thevillages. The Zemi Naga are however not in a compact blockand live in three different portions with Kuki or Cachari inthe intervening portions. The Mikir form a pocket to thenorth-west of the area and the Cachari roughly inhabit thecentral and south-west portions. The Cachari are the mostnumerous of the tribes with a population of about 16,000;the Kuki are about 7,000 and the Zemi about 6,000. Relationsbetween the Kuki and the Naga are said to be unsatisfactorythough for the time being relations appear to be good. Itmay be mentioned here that the Zemi have still unpleasantmemories of bad treatment by the Angami of the Naga HillsDistrict and there is not much love lost between them thoughthey showed themselves responsive to instructions given bycertain Angami officials from Kohima
There is little literacy in this area and cultivationis by the primitive method of jhuming. Unlike the Angamiareas in the Naga Hills District, the hillsides here aremuch steeper and, apart from rainfall, there is no scope forirrigation. Then again, unlike the Angami, the Zemi live insmall hamlets and it is not an easy matter to find adequatelabour for the introduction of terracing and wetcultivation. A certain number of orange gardens have beenplanted and potatoes have been introduced into the district.There is little doubt that with the encouragement ofeducation, for which there is a demand the tribes can bebrought up to the level of the others; but at present whilethey are quite capable of understanding the broad outlinesof the democratic mechanism and can take part in elections,it is unlikely that they will be able to manage a body likea local board without official aid. The main difficulty inthis portion is however that caused by the existence ofdifferent tribes who have little feeling of solidarity amongthemselves. Quite recently a sort of tribal council tobring, together the different tribes with a view toeducating them in local self-government was undertaken bythe Sub-Divisional Officer, but the Mikir, influenced asthey were by people from the Mikir Hills who wanted anamalgamation of the Mikir area with the Mikir Hills portion,would not co-operate in the joint council. Then there is thequestion of choosing a common representative. The Cacharibeing the most numerous have some advantage and the area isobviously too small for the representation of more than onein the provincial legislature. It is likely however thatthere will be a sufficient combination for the purpose ofelecting a common representative. Since this area cannotshare a representative with plains areas, the population of37,000 will have to be provided with a representative of their own. If however a local self-governing body is formedin this district it is clear that there will have to be somekind of regional arrangement by which the different tribeshave their own separate councils which will then cometogether in the form of a council for the whole sub-division.
Like most otherhill districts this area is also adeficit area. The same feeling which exists in other areasabout safeguarding land and protection of the land fromoccupation by outsiders as well as excluding them also fromother activities which may lead to exploitation prevailshere. One feature of this area is that among the differenttribes it is Hindustani which is more of common languagethan Assamese.
7. KHASI AND JAINTIA HILLS -
This partially excluded area consists of the JaintiaHills formerly forming part of the Kingdom of the oldJaintia Kings and now forming the Jowai Sub-division, andsome 176 villages in the Sadar Sub-division. The Khasi andJaintia Hills as a whole consists of a large territorybetweenthe Garo Hills on the west and the North Cachar Hills andthe Mikir Hills on the east. The Khasi States which consistof 1,509 villages cover the western portion of the Hills andthe British villages are interlaced with them. The people of the Jowai Sub-division are known as Synteng or Pnar andspeak a dialect but with the exception of a small number ofMikir on the northern slopes of the
Hills, the wholepopulation of these Hills may be regarded as uniform. Unliketheir neighbours who speak Tibeto-Burman tongues the Khasiform an island of the MonKhmer linguistic family.
The Khasi States, which are about 25 in number, aresome of the smallest in India. The largest States areKhyriem, Mylliem and Nongkhlao and the smallest isNonglewai. The system of inheritance of Chiefship isdescribed as follows: -
"The Chiefs of these little States are generally takenfrom the same family inheritance going through the female. Auterine brother usually has the first claim and failing hima sister's son. The appointment is however subject to theapproval of a small electoral body, and the heir-apparent isoccasionally passed over, if for any reason, mental,physical or moral, he is unfit for the position. Theelectors are generally the myntries or lyngdohs, therepresentatives of the clans which go to form the State." InLangrin, the appointment is by popular election. In some of the States, if the Myntries are not unanimous in theirchoice, a popular election is held. The Chiefs are known asSiem in most States; but in some they are called Sardar,Lyngdoh in three of them and Wahadadar in one. The functionsof the chiefs are largely magisterial and in the dischargeof their duties they are assisted by their Myntries. Therelations between them and the Government of India are basedupon sanads issued to them. For specimen of these sanadsVolume XII of Aitchison's Treaties Engagements and Sanadsmay be referred to. Under the terms of the sanad, the chiefsare placed completely under the control of the DeputyCommissioner and the Government of India and waste lands aswell as minerals are ceded to the Government on conditionthat half the revenue is made over to the Siems. Theircriminal and civil authority are also limited. The sanads donot mention the right to levy excise on liquor and drugs andpresumably the Siems have that right. Though the States arenot in the partially excluded areas, the main interestattaching to them is the fact that there is anunderstandable feeling among the people of the States thatthere should be a federation between the States and theBritish portions so that all the Khasi people are broughtunder a common administration. The position is that in theBritish areas, though there is now the franchise and amember is sent to the provincial legislature, there is nostatutory local body for local self-government. The States,on the other hand, enjoy certain rights as stated above, andthe problem is to bridge the gap.
The Khasi and Jaintia Hills have the advantage of theprovincial headquarters Shillong, being situated among them.Literacy among the Khasi amounts to about 11 per cent with amale literacy of 19 per cent. The district is alreadyenfranchised and the special features which it is desirableto bear in mind is the matriarchal system prevalent there,the democratic village systems and other special customs andtraditions. Cultivation in the Khasi and Jaintia Hills maybe regarded as comparatively advanced. There is a good dealof wet cultivation and the culture of oranges and potatoesis common. The Khasi have also taken to non-agriculturalprofessions much more than other hill people.
8. THE GARO HILLS -
Which is the butt-end of the range of hills whichconstitute the water shed for the Brahmaputra and the SurmaValleys. The Garo who inhabit these hills are people ofTibeto-Burman origin and are similar to the Cachari.
The area of the district is 3,152 square miles and it isinhabited by a population of 233,569 of which 198,474 ornearly 85 per cent, are tribals, mainly Garo. The Garoinhabit not only the district which bears their name butthere are villages inhabited by them in Kamrup and Goalparaalso and portions of the Mymensingh district of Bengaljoining the Garo Hills is inhabited by thousands of Garo.
The Garo are a people with a matriarchal system likethe Khasi. The tribal system of the Garo is highlydemocratic and the whole village with the Nokma as the heador chairman takes part in the council if any matter is
indispute. The district as a whole is pretty backward withonly about five literates in a hundred and lacking incommunications. Christian missions have been active andthere has been a certain amount of conversion but on thewhole the Garo even while being able to produce a fairnumber of intelligent and literate people have yet to comeup to the degree of the Khasi or the Lushai. Franchise atpresent is restricted to the Nokma but is unlikely thatthere will be any great difficulty in working a franchisesystem based on adult franchise than in most other areas.
In the Garo Hills also the sole occupation isagriculture and though garden crops are grown round the hutssometimes, the method is largely that of jhuming. The peopleweave their own clothes but there is no important cottageindustry. The area is however much more in contact with theplains on either side of it than areas like the Lushai Hillsor the Naga Hills.
The Garo are keenly desirous of uniting all thevillages inhabited by Garo whether in the plains of Assam orin the Mymensingh district of Bengal under a commonadministration. The Bengal district of Mymensingh seems to be the home of about 48,000 Garo most of whom are on thefringe of the Garo Hills, and the question of rectificationof the boundary to include this area in the Garo Hillsdistrict of Assam definitely deserves consideration. Asimilar examination is necessary in respect of other Garovillages in the Kamrup and Goalpara districts of Assam.