SHILLONG, Jul 24: The tribal status of Meghalaya chief minister Dr Mukul Sangma has come to the fore again with Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) in a strong message to the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC), has expressed its resentment to the attempt made to modify the existing customary laws, through codification. The GNLA’s political secretary, Bikdot Nikjang Marak has accused the GHADC of trying to save Meghalaya Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma by changing laws to make him a Garo.
In a matrilineal society of Meghalaya the children take the title of the mother. Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma’s mother is said to be a Muslim while his father is a Garo, a Sangma by surname.
Today, the move of the GHADC to codify the Garo Customary Laws has already come under flak through a protest of the NGOs leading to a stalling of the proceedings. The GNLA this time has lambasted the GHADC for an attempt to change centuries of traditions.
“This is our message to show our profound disappointment over the intention of introducing or passing the alteration bill of the ‘Garo Customary Law’ in the house of the GHADC. It seems that some of the Congress led MDCs are trying to modify or change the centuries old traditional law and pave the way to legally admit non-tribals as Garos into our society. An attempt or support to the above bill on behalf of our elected political members/MDCs of GHADC will not be tolerated by GNLA,” stated Marak.
“Further, it should be taken as a strong message that any modification or alteration of the ‘Garo Customary Law’ will not be accepted by our organisation, now or ever. We promise to prevent it at any cost and also take strong malicious action against those who proceed in support of such bills which are detrimental to our Garo society as a whole,” warned Marak.
Warning the current crop of MDCs including the CEM, Alphonse A Sangma on the issue, the GNLA said that it would be forced to act beyond imagination, without thought of consequences, if any attempt to bring such a bill is attempted in the future.
“In our matriarchal system, customary laws play a vital role in many ways and practically, they have efficiently served the people for centuries. Therefore, the change or alteration of such viable practices or laws does not arise,” said Marak.
“How can any person, born of either a non-Garo mother or a non-Garo father, become a ‘Garo’ by mere official recognition or just because they are accepted by some maharis, also known as Deragata by just following the Garo practices? Similarly, how can a non-Garo person who marries a Garo woman be recognized as a Garo just because he agrees to follow the Garo culture, system, customs and traditions?” he asked.
Bikdot questioned the message that would be sent out if the bill became a reality. “The practice of adoption to any particular mahari is limited to the Garos only. Therefore, non-tribals entering the fray is far from reality or rather impossible. The bill intending to manipulate the centuries old customary law seems like a business deal. Will it not send a dubious message about the authenticity of the Garo culture, traditions and systems to the outside world?” he asked.
Stating that the mere passing of the Bill has the potential to change the history of Garo society, Marak said it would create imbalance in the current setup and invite mass social distress and even lead to bloodshed.
“Without the consent of the entire Garo society, how can MDCs of Garo Hills try to pass this bill? Such a big move towards change needs rigorous research, discussions, adjudications and mass approval by the people,” he added.
Stating that the change in the Bill is an attempt to save Dr. Mukul Sangma who is embroiled in a case to prove his tribal status, Marak accused the Congress MDCs of working at the behest of the Chief Minister. “With the tribal status of our Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul and his brother, Zenith in question, this bill emerges as the trump card for their escape. Moreover, with Congress politically powerful all around and the corrupt loyalists of Dr. Mukul present everywhere, this bill seems escalated out of nowhere,” accused Bikdot.
“GNLA and the people of Garo Hills clearly know that Dr. Mukul has a big hand in this policy with his pet MDCs as instruments for the bill to pass. However, we have all eyes open and shall see the end of days to protect our inherited and gifted Garo customary laws if need be,” added Marak.
In a post message, the political secretary of GNLA warned of the severest action against those plotting to change traditional laws. “Any attempt to change or support or are in favor of this bill, any politician, minister, MLA, MDC or leader will be dealt with in outmost severity by GNLA. This is the original root of every Garo person and any modification to such undisputed originality is a crime in the eyes of every Garo citizen,” the release said.