SHILLONG, APR 24: Four organizations – HNYF, KSU, FKJGP and Maitshaphrang have urged the citizens to extend their full support the need to introduce some amendments to the Meghalaya Succession to Self Acquired Property (Khasi and Jaintia Special Provision) Act, 1986 to ensure equitable distribution of property.
“With this vision in mind we appeal to the Hynniewtrep people for their views and opinion, their cooperation and support in bringing about a legislation that is progressive and an asset to all the children of the family and their generations and with the talents and the resources available in our State, let us make our Meghalaya an economic powerhouse, the pride of India,” Convener of the Maitshaphrang Michael Syiem said in a statement issued on Monday.
The matter was also discussed during a meeting organized by the four organizations with representatives of the seng Kur (Clan) on April 15.
Syiem said the whole world revolves around the economy and the stronger the economy the stronger the country, citing examples like the USA, Germany, China, and quite a few more. Even Israel which is not much bigger in size than Meghalaya and where 65% of its territory is desert, has a very strong economy and attempts by its far bigger neighbouring countries to ‘bring it to heel’ time and again had been countered successfully by Israel. Israel is now a major player not only in the Middle East.
He said if Meghalaya is to become a strong and a progressive State and able to protect its’ borders besides taking up other development activities, it has to develop its economy and the involvement and contribution of its indigenous population to strengthen this economic development is vital.
In the present situation where government jobs have reached a near saturation point, the only viable alternative is for the young people of the state to go into economic activity in a big way and for those who have the capital, it will have a multiplier effect creating more employment opportunities.
For this to happen, economic empowerment of all the children in the family of the Hynniewtrep community is a must to allow them to give collateral for availing of loans from the financial institution.
“Therefore, the need to amend the above 1986 Act to include the word ‘Equitable’ meaning ‘Fair and Just’ (not ‘Equal’ as some people mistakenly interpreted), and the word ‘Ancestral’ in the principal Act which will then read as, the Meghalaya Equitable Succession to Ancestral and Self Acquired Property (Khasi and Jaintia Special Provision) Act. Proposal to include the word ‘Gift’ was also made,” Syiem said.
“The word ‘Equitable’ gives the parents the flexibility to ‘Will’ out their property to their children, sons and daughters, to whom and how much, according to their wisdom. If in certain cases, the parents in their wisdom feel that the youngest daughter deserves the bulk or the entire share, this Law will allow them to do so by Will. In a family where there are no daughters only sons, the Will which gives the sons the right to the family property will prevent the Kur (Clan) from snatching away the property from them when their parents expire, which is usually the case because of the absence of this law,” he added.
The Maitshaphrang leader further recalled that in the year 1982 a group of ex KSU members, discussed the need for a law to give all children of the family a share of the family property.
“Accordingly together with some concerned friends and members of the Tribal United Front led by (L) Wifel Slong we drafted a Bill which was to be presented to the KHADC. This Bill was however taken up and passed by the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly and received the assent of the Governor on May 23, 1986 as The Meghalaya Succession to Self Acquired Property (Khasi and Jaintia Special Provision) Act, 1986 and published in the Gazette of Meghalaya, Extraordinary, dated June 3, 1986,” he said.
“However in this principal Act of 1986 it mentions only the Self Acquired Property of the parents that can be Willed out to their children, sons and daughters. But this Self Acquired property of the parents, in the next generation becomes Ancestral property to the children and it reverts back to the youngest daughter as per our present system of inheritance,” Syiem said while adding that “So therefore, we are demanding that only this part of the Ancestral property that is inherited from their parents and grandparents be allowed to be Willed out to anyone of their children and successive generations and not the Ancestral property that belongs to the Kur (Clan).”
Syiem said after more than 30 years of campaigning we are glad that more and more families are equitably distributing their properties to all their children, sons and daughters. But it must be emphasized here that there must be a law in place to strengthen and legalise this distribution of inheritance by way of a Will or by a Gift.
“We are facing challenging times from challenging forces and unless we economically empower all our children, sons and daughters whenever possible, our matrilineal society will not be able to withstand the onslaught facing us today and the years to come. The problem of influx which is mainly driven by availability of economic opportunities, will be checked to a great extent when more and more indigenous people of the state enter into economic activity, encouraged by this new legislation,” he added.