Recently, Indian National Congress leader Rahul Gandhi in a video message promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution of India in order to safeguard the interests of the people in tribal-majority districts of Assam.
About Article 244(A)
Article 244(A) allows the creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas. It was inserted into the Constitution under the Congress government in 1969. It also includes a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
How the 6th Schedule of the Constitution is different from Article 244(A)?
It is a special provision that allows decentralized governance and greater political autonomy in certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives. If we talk about Assam, the hill districts of Karbi Anglong, West Karbi, Dima Hasao, and the Bodo Territorial Region are under the provision of the 6th schedule.
Article 244(A) On the other hand, provides more autonomous powers to tribal areas.
Why is the demand for implementing Article 244(A) in Assam state?
Initially, a demand for a separate hill state came up in certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam in 1950s. In 1960, several political parties of the hill areas came together to form the All Party Hill Leaders Conference and put forward the demand for a separate state. As a result of these prolonged agitations, Meghalaya was formed in 1972.
At that time, the leaders of the North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong were also part of this movement. They were given an option to stay in Assam or join Meghalaya. They stayed in Assam on the promise of the Congress government of providing greater powers, including Article 244 (A).
Since then, there has been a demand for implementing Article 244 (A) in the state. In 1980s, a violent movement also took place for the demand.
In February 2021, around 1,040 militants of 5 militant groups of Karbi Anglong district laid down arms at an event in Guwahati in the presence of CM Sarbananda Sonowal.