Thursday, September 4, 2008

Victims of Barbed wire: Chakmas of Mizoram being denied compensation and justice

By- Paritosh Chakma
reporting from Indo-Bangladesh border areas, Mizoram

The ongoing India-Bangladesh Border Fencing Project will displace a total of 5,790 Chakma families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages in Mizoram– representing 49.7% of the state’s Chakma population (71,283 as per Census 2001).

When 49.7% of a community’s people are being affected it can be rightly considered a grave situation and needed urgent attention.

But nothing such thing called “attention” has been given to the affected Chakmas anywhere along the fencing line by the administration.

The fencing of the 318 km Mizoram-Bangladesh international border is being carried out by four public sector construction companies - National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC), Border Roads Organization (BRO), Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC). In the very beginning, the Chakmas had complained of non-compliance of the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs by these four construction companies while carrying out the fencing alignment and works.

Despite of the alarming situation, no Central team surveyed the area to take stock of the problems of the victims. The state officials did not visit most of the affected villages.

Instead, the state officials and the engineers of the four construction companies have been busy exploiting the situation, to gain the most out of the chaotic situation prevailing in many villages as the villagers (who have never faced such a situation) do not know what to do in order to get proper compensation on time.

They have been helpless and desperate.

In March 2008, a tribal rights NGO based in Delhi filed a complaint with the NHRC against the non-delivery of compensation to the victims and sought an investigation into it.

After the NHRC issued a notice, the District Commissioner of Lunglei has coerced the Village Council members of the Chakma affected villages within the district to provide in writing a letter withdrawing the complaint.

On the other hand, the situation of the victims did not improve, as in many villages they did not get any compensation as yet.When the victims are facing insurmountable problems while getting the basic compensation, what will happen to them with regard to rehabilitation?

What the local authorities of the state government and the constructing companies are interested is how best to get fatter through corruption and mismanagement of the funds awarded by the Central government as compensation to the victims.
(The writer can be contacted at pchakma@gmail.com)

For further information, read http://paritosh-chakma.blogspot.com/2008/02/india-bangladesh-border-fencing-in.html

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