Identifying the tribes of Mizoram: A Constitutional perspective

In Mizoram, many Mizo community organizations consider reference to Hmar, Mara, Lai etc as dividing the “Mizos”. The pertinent question is whether the same is the truth. The Constitution of India which governs the entire country including Mizoram state is instructive.

The key document that defines and identifies the tribal communities in India is the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 notified by the President of India in exercise of the powers conferred by clause (1) of Article 342 of the Constitution of India after consultation with the Governors and Rajpramukhs of the States concerned.

The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 has identified the following 15 Scheduled Tribes of Mizoram:

1. Chakma,
2. Dimasa(Kachari)
3. Garo
4. Hajong
5. Hmar
6. Khasi and Jaintia (including Khasi, Synteng or Pnar, War, Bhoi or Lyngngam)
7. Any Kuki tribes, including  – (i) Baite or Biete, (ii) Changsan, (iii) Chongloi, (iv) Doungel, (v) Gamalhou, (vi) Gangte, (vii) Guite, (viii) Hanneng, (ix) Haokip or Haupit, (x) Haolai, (xi) Hengna, (xii) Hongsungh, (xiii) Hrangkhwal or Rangkhol, (xiv) Jongbe, (xv) Khawchung, (xvi) Khawathlang or Khothalong, (xvii) Khelma, (xviii) Kholhou, (xix) Kipgen, (xx) Kuki, (xxi) Lengthang, (xxii) Lhangum, (xxiii) Lhoujem, (xiv) Lhouvun, (xxv) Lupheng, (xxvi) Mangjel, (xxvii) Missao, (xxviii) Riang, (xxix) Sairhem, (xxx) Selnam, (xxxi) Singson, (xxxii) Sitlhou, (xxxiii) Sukte, (xxxiv) Thado, (xxxv) Thangngeu, (xxxvi) Uibuh, (xxxvii) Vaiphei

8. Lakher
9. Man (Tai-speaking)
10. Any Mizo (Lushai) tribes
11. Mikir
12. Any Naga tribes
13. Pawi
14. Synteng
15. Paite.

It is therefore evident from the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 notified by the President of India that “any Mizo (Lushai) tribes” are only one of the 15 Scheduled Tribes of Mizoram. If all other 14 tribal groups including Hmar, Lakher/Mara, Pawi/Lai, Paite, Chakma, Kuki etc were of “any Mizo (Lushai) tribes”, they would not have been listed separately by the President of India.

Further, the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India created Mara Autonomous District Council, Lai Autonomous District Council and Chakma Autonomous District Council in April 1972. If these three communities were of “any Mizo (Lushai) tribes”, there would not have been any need for creation of separate ADCs.

It is also pertinent to mention that the Government of Mizoram created the Sinlung Hills Development Council for the Hmars on 27 August 1997. The Mizoram government has been holding talks with the Hmar People Convention (Democratic) and recently the state government has agreed to upgrade it into “Sinlung Hill Council” after deleting the word, “Development”, with some more powers, as per media reports.

The Government of Mizoram vide Notification dated 27 July 2012 constituted “Saikal Tlangdung Development Board” consisting of six Paite-dominated villages for the development of the Paite ethnic community. Vide notification dated 27 September 2013 it was renamed as “Sailkal Range Development Council”. The Paites have been demanding that “Sailkal Range Development Council” should be upgraded into “Paite National Council/Paite Tribe Council” by including all villages in Demand Area as demanded in 1952.

The Constitution of India and laws enacted by Mizoram government are clear as to who are the Mizos or different tribes of Mizoram.

However if anybody or any organization considers reference to Hmar, Mara and Lai as dividing the “Mizos” and further deems the same worthy of filing a police complaint, such police complaints/FIRs will have to be filed against the President of India who notified 1950 Scheduled Tribes Order, all those who created the ADCs under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in Mizoram, Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla, Speakers and Members of the Mizoram State Assembly who created the Sinlung Hills Development Council in 1997 and the Sailkal Range Development Council in 2013.

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