Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Saturday reiterated that the non-schedule areas of the State be exempted from the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

“We are thankful that the Govt of India has exempted States like Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh and to a large extend Meghalaya but we demand full exemption be accorded to Meghalaya, including measures taken for exemption of Assam as well,” Sangma said.

He said this at the 15th Annual General Conference of the Council of Nokmas at Jengjal in West Garo Hills.

Informing that Meghalaya assembly has passed a resolution for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the State, the Chief Minister said, “We are very firm in our demand and would continue to engage with the central Government unless and until complete exemption and protection is provided to our people.”

He said most of the Northeastern States have been provided with measures for protection, however, the State of Assam is facing challenge under the CAA and the Chief Minister demanded similar measures for protection and exemption.

Interacting with hundreds of Nokmas (Village Chief), the Chief Minister advocated that they (Nokmas) were the custodians of the society and should play a critical role in safeguarding the interest of the indigenous people.

“Government will make policies and provisions to protect the land and its people. However, our local institutions should continue to play vital role in ensuring protection at the grassroot level,” the chief minister added.

He urged the village chiefs not to sell their land to outsiders, who adopt unfair means to obtain land in Meghalaya, referring to cases of benami land transfers.

The chief minister also suggested documentation of Nokmaship, and the lifestyle of the Garos so that the future generation will understand the importance of the Nokmas in the society.

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