The Lalung or Tiwa, an old tribe in Meghalaya’s Ri-Bhoi district has demanded the state government to recognize them and include in the Scheduled Tribe (ST) list of the State.
A delegation of Tiwa (Lalung) Mathonlai Tokhra Meghalaya State Committee and All Tiwa Students’ Union led by NPP MLA from Mawhati constituency, Dasakhiat Lamare also submitted a joint memorandum to chief minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday evening.
The delegation told the chief minister that the Lalung (Tiwa) tribe was left out from the Scheduled Tribe order list of Meghalaya though they are the indigenous tribe under the erstwhile Hima Shillong.
After the bifurcation of Hima Shillong, the Tiwa people fall under the administrative control of the Hima Khyrim and they are the rightful subjects of the Hima Khyrim Syiemship.
The Tiwa people have been recognized by the Syiem of Hima Khyrim for having resided in the Khasi Hills even before the creation of Meghalaya.
Meghalaya became a state after carving out of Assam in 1972.
The Lalung (Tiwa) people live in Ri Bhoi district in the area earlier known as ‘Shari Krai’ (Saw Raid) and now known as ‘Phas Krai’ (San Raid) – Maïong, Makdoh, Lumphui, Amjong and Sakra under Khyrim Syiemship.
The Tiwa people are residing under Block I and II along the inter-state boundary with Assam.
Leaders of the Tiwa tribe were also part of the statehood movement which led to the creation of an autonomous state in 1970 and full-fledged State in 1972.
After meeting the chief minister, the NPP legislator, Dasakhiat Lamare said that the demand of the Lalung (Tiwa) people to recognize them as ST has been pending for the past 19 years since 2001.
Lamare said that the chief minister has assured that the government would examine the proposal.
According to Lamare, the population of the Tiwa people residing only in his Mawhati constituency is around 8,000.
The Tiwa leaders while reiterating their demand to recognize the Lalung (Tiwa) people living in Meghalaya as ST, wondered how the Bodo, Rabhas, Hajong and Chakmas were included and recognized as Scheduled Tribes in the ST list of the State, though they are not the original tribe of Meghalaya based on historical background.
“The Chakma people are not recognized in the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes order list of the Indian Constitution but regarded as refugees in India,” the Tiwa leaders stated in the memorandum.
However, in Meghalaya, they are included in the ST list, it added.
“Therefore, we reiterate our demand to include the Lalung (Tiwa) people living in Meghalaya as ST with its own distinct identity,” the memorandum further stated.