Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mizoram Chakmas demand political rights and right to development: Joint Memorandum submitted to Ms Sonia Gandhi

[Note: This press release has been issued by the Mizoram Chakma Welfare Committee]
Mizoram Chakma Welfare Committee
Marpara “S”, BPO- Marpara, Lunglei district, Mizoram-796431

Press Release
14 June 2008

Mizoram Chakmas demand Sixth Schedule status

Marpara [Mizoram]: Today, a conglomerate of Chakma civil society groups namely, Mizoram Chakma Welfare Committee (MCWC), Young Chakma Association (YCA), Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MSCU), Chakma Mahila Samitti and Sajek Valley Chakma Youth Forum (SVCYF) submitted a joint representation to Smt. Sonia Gandhi when she visited Chakma–dominated Marpara village near the India-Bangladesh border, seeking that all the Chakma dominated areas of Mizoram be brought under the Sixth Schedule provisions of the Indian Constitution or be put under a “Single Administrative Unit”. The Chakmas who are the most backward tribal community in the state feel such a step by the Central government is necessary for their speedy development as they are discriminated under the Mizo rule.

Presently there is a Chakma Autonomous District Council, but the Joint Memorandum pointed out that nearly fifty percent of the Chakmas of Mizoram have been left out of the Chakma ADC and they are the most deprived lot. Justifying the demand, Chakmas alleged that successive governments at Aizawl did nothing to improve their living conditions in areas falling outside the CADC.

Issues of non-implementation of welfare and development schemes in Chakma areas, mass deletion of Chakma voters from electoral rolls in the 1990s, discrimination under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), mass displacement due to ongoing Indo-Bangladesh border fencing, lack of relief to Chakma villagers affected by the bamboo famine, denial of benefits of the Border Area Development Programmes although Chakmas live on the border, denial of forest rights, non-existence of medical facilities, lack of reservations in government jobs, and lack of alternate source of livelihood at a time when the Forest Department has been busy declaring all forests as Reserved Forests around the Chakma habitations, among others, have been highlighted before Ms Gandhi.

Smt. Sonia Gandhi is on a tour to West and South Mizoram to take stock of the impacts of “Mautam” on the people. [Ends]

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