Protective Discrimination

The British worked out a system of Regulations with a view to restrict contacts between the Zomi and outsiders. Their intention was not of “isolating the Zomi” but allowing them to develop their (Zomi) own lives and be protected against exploitation and the subservience of their rules and customs by a different civilization which would be unsuited to them. This position supported Mc Call’s view that the British administrator should,

‘do all he can to ensure that where changes have to come, or even have occurred, that they should be the result of development of local genius within the framework of indigenous culture rather than the often too insecure grasping at some quite foreign conception of thought.'

The objectives, he went on to say, was to allow the Zomi to “work out their own salvation.” Thus, under section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, the Governor-General-in-Council notified an “Inner Line” beyond which no British subject could move without a Pass from the Deputy Commissioner. Besides this, sections 22, 23, 38(2) and 40 of the Chin Hills Regulation, 1896 were extended to Zomi inhabited areas of India in modified form with effect from Oct 9, 1911. Under these sections of the Regulation, the Superintendent or the Deputy Commissioner of the District can order a person, who is not the native of the area to leave the area within a specified time, if his presence is felt to be injurious to the peace and good administration of the area. According to the Scheduled Districts Act, 1874, the provincial government could determine what enactments were or were not to be in force and with what restrictions or modifications. This was in conformity with the Assam Frontier Tracts Regulation II of 1880.

Under the Government of India Act, 1919, the Governor-General in Council declared Lushai Hills (Zomi Areas) as “Backward Tract” in which ‘only the laws suited to the areas were applied.’ Even when popular ministries were formed under the Act of 1919, the subject of backward area was left to the Governor’s special power. Again, the Government of India Act 1935 empowered the King-in-Council to declare any area of the British territory to be an “Excluded Area” or “Partially Excluded Area.” Lushai Hills was declared an Excluded Area in 1936, which means that the Governor of Assam, the Provincial government and legislature were not responsible for its administration.

After independence, most parts of Zomi inhabited areas were placed under the 6th Scheduled of the Constitution, while eastern Zogam was given ‘Chin Hills Special Division.’ The Zomi in Manipur Hills experienced slightly different political administration. Before the Burmese War (1824-1826), they were only nominally under the control of the Raja of Manipur. But even after the conclusion of peace with Burma, the majority of Zomi tribes were independent and known to the British little more than by name. Ever since 1891 the hill areas were being administered by the British officers. From 1891 to 1907, the Political Agent ruled these areas, but even after 1907 when the Maharaja took over the administration of the state, the hill areas remained the special responsibility of the British ICS officer who was the President of the Maharaja’s Darbar. During this long period justice was administered in the hill areas according to the respective customs of the tribes (Zomi).



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