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Anudeep asked: Under the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution, how administration differs from a district to a regional council? Please explain in the context of the recent clash between Rengma Nagas and Karbis?

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  • Namrata Goswami replies: The Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution that functions under Article 244 (2) offers representative councils to the states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura. The major difference between a district and a regional council is that while the district council covers a particular district, for instance, the Karbi Anglong District which witnessed the clash between the Karbis and the Rengmas in December 2013, the regional councils can be constituted by the governor of the state to cover regions which may compose of one particular ethnic community. An example is the demand by the Kuki National Army for a Kuki Regional Council. The idea of a regional council is that it transcends state borders to form councils based on the inhabited areas of a particular ethnic community.

    With regard to the clashes between the Rengmas and the Karbis, it started after nine Karbi youths were found murdered near Chumukedima in Nagaland. The dead included one Karbi student leader. In retaliation, some Karbi militant cadres attacked a Rengma village in Karbi Anglong. It must be noted that the Rengma Nagas have lived in Karbi Anglong for many decades now without violence between the two communities; but attacks on Karbi youths in Nagaland can bring about retaliation on a totally unrelated Naga tribe just because it owes allegiance to the larger Naga ethnic identity.

    Posted on February 12, 2014