The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said the Government of India is conscious of the sentiments and requirements for inclusion of other languages in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
“Such requests have to be considered keeping in view these sentiments and other relevant considerations,” MHA deputy secretary (NI) P Venukuttan Nair said in a letter to the Hynniewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM) in regard to the demand for inclusion of Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule.
However, the MHA was silent on the long pending demand for immediate implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP).
The MHA said at present, 22 languages are included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution. There have been demands for inclusion of more languages, including Khasi and Garo languages in the Eighth Schedule.
In a verbatim reiteration of the statement made by the Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 27, 2021, the letter said, “As the evolution of dialects and languages is a dynamic process, influenced by socio-cultural, economic and political developments, it is difficult to fix any criterion for languages, whether to distinguish them from dialects, or for inclusion in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution,” adding “The earlier attempts, through the Pahwa (1996) and Sitakant Mohapatra (2003) Committees, to evolve such fixed criteria have remained inconclusive.”
In regard to the demand for constitution of a boundary commission to resolve the boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam, the official said, “…However, the request for constitution of a boundary commission to resolve the boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam, comes under the purview of CS Division. As such, a copy of the petition is being forwarded to CS Division for further necessary action.”
The HANM received the reply from the MHA on November 7, after organising a sit-in at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to pressurise the Centre to speed up decisions on the various issues including ILP.
Addressing the media, HANM president Lamphrang Kharbani said that the MHA did not say anything on the ILP demand in its letter.
“Therefore, we have decided to continue to pursue this demand and ensure the Centre implements ILP to check influx and illegal immigration into the state,” he said.
According to him, Meghalaya needs an effective mechanism like the ILP to protect the identity and interest of the indigenous people of the state.