Article 244 (A)
Context: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi promised to implement Article 244 (A) of the Constitution to safeguard the interests of the people in Assam’s tribal-majority districts.
What is Article 244(A) of the Constitution?
- Article 244(A) allows for creation of an ‘autonomous state’ within Assam in certain tribal areas. Inserted into the Constitution in 1969 by the then Congress government, it also has a provision for a Legislature and a Council of Ministers.
How is it different from the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution?
- The Sixth Schedule of the Constitution — Articles 244(2) and 275(1) — is a special provision that allows for greater political autonomy and decentralised governance in certain tribal areas of the Northeast through autonomous councils that are administered by elected representatives.
- In Assam, the hill districts of Dima Hasao, Karbi Anglong and West Karbi and the Bodo Territorial Region are under this provision.
- Article 244(A) accounts for more autonomous powers to tribal areas.
How did the demand arise?
- In the 1950s, a demand for a separate hill state arose around certain sections of the tribal population of undivided Assam.
- In 1960, various political parties of the hill areas merged to form the All Party Hill Leaders Conference, demanding a separate state.
- After prolonged agitations, Meghalaya gained statehood in 1972.
- The leaders of the Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills were also part of this movement,” they were given the option to stay in Assam or join Meghalaya.”
- They stayed back as the then Congress government promised more powers, including Article 244 (A).
- In the 1980s, this demand took the form of a movement with a number of Karbi groups resorting to violence. It soon became an armed separatist insurgency demanding full statehood.