The Meghalaya government has responded to the demands of the Voice of the People’s Party (VPP) and announced the formation of an expert committee to review the state’s reservation policy. This move comes in the wake of an indefinite hunger strike led by VPP MLA Ardent Basaiawmoit, who has now called off his protest following the government’s decision. The expert committee will comprise individuals well-versed in constitutional law, economics, sociology, demographic studies, and related fields. Let’s delve deeper into the details of this significant development.
The 1972 reservation policy in Meghalaya allocated 40 percent of reserved jobs to the Garo tribe, 40 percent to the Khasi-Jaintia tribes, 5 percent to other tribes, and 15 percent to candidates from the general category. However, opposition parties, including the VPP, have been urging the government to review and revise this policy, claiming that it needs to reflect the current population structure more accurately.
Expert Committee Formation
To address the demands made by the VPP and other opposition parties, the Meghalaya government has constituted an expert committee. Chief Secretary D P Wahlang announced the committee’s formation, stating that it will be responsible for reviewing the state reservation policy. The committee will seek input from all relevant stakeholders to ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the existing policy.
All-Party Committee Support
The decision to form the expert committee was backed by an all-party committee on reservation roster and reservation policy. This committee, chaired by state Law Minister Ampareen Lyngdoh, endorsed the idea of appointing an expert committee to review the 51-year-old reservation policy. Additionally, it proposed that all political parties submit written suggestions within a 15-day timeframe.
End of Hunger Strike
Following the government’s announcement, VPP MLA Ardent Basaiawmoit concluded his hunger strike, which lasted for over 200 hours. Expressing his satisfaction with the government’s willingness to review the policy, Basaiawmoit announced the end of his protest. His wife fed him two tablespoons of rice, symbolizing the breaking of his fast.
Demand for Apolitical Committee Members
The Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC), which supported Basaiawmoit during his hunger strike, emphasized the need for the expert committee members to be apolitical. HYC president Robert Kharjahrin stressed that political affiliations should be avoided in order to ensure an unbiased review of the reservation policy.
The VPP has been advocating for a reservation policy that aligns with the state’s population structure. Citing the 2011 census, which reported a Khasi population of over 14.1 lakhs and a Garo population of slightly over 8.21 lakhs, Basaiawmoit stated that the job reservation ratio should be proportionate to these figures.
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