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‘Lineage bill a codification of Khasi practices’

Shylla rules out discussions

MAWKYRWAT: KHADC chief executive member HS Shylla said on Thursday that the lineage bill “is not legislation but a codification of existing practices” of the tribe in different parts of the state that prevent Khasi women from marrying non-Khasis.
Addressing a meeting here, Shylla hailed the wisdom of the “Jaitbynriew” for teaching their children not to allow Khasi women to marry non-Khasis as this may lead to extinction of this small tribe.
“The Khasi Lineage Act, 1997, was not legislated by the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council but was made by the people in different parts of Khasi-Jaintia Hills. All those villages that prevent mixed-marriages made this law which was codified by the KHADC,” the KHADC chief said, adding that in Mairang area, mixed marriages were allowed but the couple had to leave the village within three hours after the ceremony.
The leader, who had created controversy by saying women marrying non-Khasis should have to give up their ST status, said except in Shillong and some villages in border areas, people from all over the Khasi-Jaintia Hills did not want mixed marriages.
“Some people in Shillong said the bill needed to be discussed but for what? We don’t need discussion on marrying non-Khasis. According to records, Khasi people started realising the threat to the Jaitbynriew through mixed marriage since 1925 in which the Presbyterian Church took up this issue in one of its meetings,” Shylla said, adding that the bill needed to be immediately passed as he stated that many tribes in the world have become extinct because of mixed marriages.
Shylla said the bill was inspired by Article 29 (1) of the Constitution of India which said, “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same”.
“If we lose our identity or become extinct because of various reasons, we cannot blame India because the Constitution has given us the power to make laws but we fail to do the same,” Shylla said.
The CEM also expressed confidence that the bill would get assent from the governor in the next one or two months because “all the Khasis, except some who married ‘dkhar’, supported it”.
“The government has to accept because if it rejects the bill, it rejects the Jaitbynriew Khasi,” he added.

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