Wednesday, February 27, 2008

BANGLADESH: Renewed efforts to settle Muslim plain settlers on the lands of the indigenous peoples in CHTs

New Delhi, 27 February 2008

According to the latest information received from Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, the Bangaldesh army has renewed its efforts to settle illegal Muslim settler families from the plains on the lands of the indigenous peoples in CHTs.

On 7 February 2008, Dui Tila army camp commander Subedar Mohammad Malek called a meeting with five Jumma elders and three Bengali setters at his camp. In the meeting, Subedar Malek told the Jumma elders that they must allow settlement of about 50 illegal Bengali settler families at Tin Tila area under Baghaichari Upazilla of Rangamati district.

The three Bengali settlers suggested at the meeting that all the lands of Tin Tila are Khas (government) land and so they should be allowed to settle down! This is very funny to suggest that the indigenous peoples who have been living on their lands for centuries do not own their lands.

But Subedar Malek served his diktat on the Jumma peoples and warned the Jummas that: “If the settlers face any troubles (with the settlement), you and all the Pahari people (of the area) will be held responsible for that”. In the unspoken words, it means that the army will take military action against any Jumma who did not allow settlement of the illegal settlers.

The army commander also ordered nine Jumma indigenous villagers to leave their homes to make way for the illegal settlement. They are Gongotya Chakma (45) of Betagichara village, Banshi Chakma (40) of village Betagichara, Sambhulal Chakma (50) of village Betagichara, Kishor Chakma (35) of village Betagichara, Chikondhan Chakma (35) of village Hazachara, Kanti Chakma (35) of village Hazachara, Kishtojoy Chakma (35) of village Hazachara, Kalomoni Chakma (35) of village Moghban and Purnadarshi Chakma (45) of village Tintila.

In a separate incident, on 17 February 2008, the army personnel from Kiang-ghat camp in Khagrachari did not allow the Buddhists to carry out uplift work at Sarnath Arannyo Kuthir, a Buddhist temple. The army personnel have been deployed at the Kuthir area since January 3 to harass Buddhist Jummas and prevent any kind of construction works. On 17 February 2008, army personnel also did not allow one Pabullya Chakma, son of late Chigono Chakma to build a house on his own land at Karallyachari village, about half a kilometer from Sarnath Arannyo Kuthir.

In addition to land grabbing and obstruction to religious rights of the Jummas, the army personnel have been engaged in other gross human rights violations such as torture and arbitrary arrest and detention in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

On 23 February 2008, three Jumma indigenous villagers were tortured by Bangladesh army at Tulaban village in Baghaichari Upazila under Rangamati district, CHTs. The army from Korengatoli camp raided Tulaban village and tortured Shankar Chakma (30), son of Melallya Chakma, Manek Bosu Chakma (25), son of Bindu Lal Chakma and Mongol Kusum Chakma (30), son of Dhan Chan Chakma when they stated ignorance about the killer/s of one Tapan Chakma, a member of the JSS (reformist) group who was killed on 22 February 2008.

Earlier, on the midnight of 11 February 2008, a group of army personnel arrested Horidhar Chakma from his home at Harangi Mukh Para, Kawkghali in Rangamti district of CHTs and took him to the Ghagra zone headquarters. He was illegally detained at the army camp for three days before he was released.

Chakma village threatens agitation against NBCC, The Sentinel, Assam, 27 February 2008

(www.sentinelassam.com)

AIZAWL, Feb 26: The Chakmas have threatened to launch agitation against the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) by blocking roads and fencing works if the NBCC fails to abide by the agreement signed with the aggrieved Chakma tribals at Silsury village in Mamit district of Mizoram, stated a press release. According to the terms of the agreement NBCC promised to release the second phase of compensation to the families affected by the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing project on or before March 15 2008. The Agreement was reached between the Compensation Demand Committee, Silsury and BR Sharma, Additional General Manager (Engineering), NBCC, Mizoram.
“The second phase of compensation should have been paid much earlier. But the NBCC has been willfully delaying compensation for its own gain at the cost of the affected families who are very poor” stated president of the Committee Maya Ranjan Chakma.
“There is no reason as to why there should be such resentment against the Border Fencing Project if the quality of lives of the displaced peoples who gave their lands for the national interest were to improve. Our concerns are valid and deserve recognition from the Governments of India and Mizoram and the NBCC,” Chakma stated further.
The Government of India has been constructing fencing along the 318 km-long India-Bangladesh border stretch in Mizoram which will displace 5,790 Chakmatribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages. The NBCC has been fencing the major portion of the border.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

India-Bangladesh Border Fencing: Who will fix responsibility?

[Note: This press release has been issued by the Compensation Demand Committee, Silusry, Mizoram.]

Compensation Demand Committee, Silsury
Headquarters: Silsury village, BPO-Silsury,
Mamit district, Mizoram-796431, IND
IA

Press Release

26 February 2008

Another Chakma village threatens agitation against NBCC

Aizawl [Mizoram]: On 25 February 2008, the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) signed an Agreement with the aggrieved Chakma tribals at Silsury village in Mamit district of Mizoram and promised to release the second phase of compensation to the families affected by the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing project on or before 15th March 2008.

The Agreement was reached between the Compensation Demand Committee, Silsury and Mr B R Sharma, Additional General Manager (Engg), NBCC, Mizoram.

The second phase of compensation should have been paid much earlier. But the NBCC has been willfully delaying compensation for its own gain at the cost of the affected families who are very poor” – stated President of the Committee Mr Maya Ranjan Chakma.

There is no reason as to why there should be such resentment against the Border Fencing Project if the quality of lives of the displaced peoples who gave their lands for the national interest were to improve. Our concerns are valid and deserve recognition from the governments of India and Mizoram and the NBCC”, Mr Chakma stated further.

The Chakmas have threatened to launch agitation against the NBCC by blocking roads and fencing works if the NBCC fails to abide by the Agreement.

The government of India has been constructing fencing along the 318 km-long India-Bangladesh border stretch in Mizoram which will displace 5,790 Chakma tribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages. The NBCC has been fencing the major portion of the border. [Ends]

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Also, please read - India-Bangladesh border fencing in Mizoram sector: Blatant rights abuses by the NBCC

Displaced Chakmas protest NBCC border fencing

Of fencing and injustice

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Racism thrives in Bhutan: Bad news for India

By: Paritosh Chakma

Bhutan is at the threshold of democracy as it is going to hold the general elections on 24 March 2008. But it has so far refused to shed its racist character and racist policies. Under the wraps of the Sangrila image, Bhutan has been practicing a policy of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic Nepali community of Southern Bhutan, who are also known as the Lothsampas.

The image of this tiny Himalayan kingdom to be a resort of peace and harmony was shaken by a series of bomb explosions including one in capital Thimphu on 20 January 2008 which was followed by another small intensity explosion in the southern district of Samtse on 4 February 2008. The blasts were too weak to cause major damages but the disgruntled groups have been able to deliver their message. United Revolutionary Front of Bhutan, a newly formed armed group fighting for the rights of the exiled ethnic Nepalis, claimed responsibility for the February 4th blast and warned of more such attacks if the first ever general election of Bhutan to be held on 24 March 2008 are not cancelled. The ethnic Nepalis have been demanding including of all the Bhutanese citizens including the refugees in the voters’ list.

In early 1990s, hundreds of Lothsampas were expelled from Bhutan for rising against the king demanding democracy and fair treatment. Presently, they are over 1,08,000 refugees being sheltered in seven United Nations-managed refugee camps in eastern Nepal. In June 2003, Bhutan agreed to classify the refugees into four categories: Category 1- Bonafide Bhutanese who had been evicted forcefully; Category 2 - Bhutanese who migrated on their own; Category 3 - Non-Bhutanese; and Category 4 - Bhutanese who have committed criminal acts. Bhutan agreed to accept the refugees of Categories 1 and 2. Out of the total refugee population of 12,183 at Khudunabari camp which was verified, the Joint Verification Team of Nepal and Bhutan found 293 persons of 74 families under Category 1; 8,595 persons of 2182 families under Category 2; 2,948 persons of 817 families under Category 3; and 347 persons of 85 families under Category 4. But Bhutan refused to honour its own findings and did not take back any refugee till date.

Bhutan is the only other country in South Asia, besides Bangladesh, which practices a systematic policy of ethnic cleansing against the ethnic minority although there is no internal armed conflict there. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh, the indigenous Jhumma peoples face systematic persecution from the illegal Bengali settlers and the military and the Bangladesh government provides free ration to the illegal Bengali settlers to sustain the conflict.

The failure of the international community to pressurize Bhutan to take back the refugees has over the years encouraged the Bhutanese government to make the condition of the remaining Lothsampas untenable to force them to denounce their citizenships or discreetly leave Bhutan. The government of Bhutan has been effectively denying the ethnic Nepalis the fundamental right to acquire education and employment or other government services by refusing to issue No Objection Certificate (NOC) to the relatives of the refugees and those who had allegedly supported the pro-democracy demonstrations.

Although the last king had famously put Gross National Happiness above the Gross Domestic Product, he failed to keep a large section of minorities including the ethnic Nepalis who are largely Hindus and the Christians happy. He never treated them at par with the Drukpas.

Any dissent is considered as anti-national. The innocent ethnic Nepalis have been targeted in the name of controlling anti-national activities. At least 39 persons of Nepali origin people including school students were arrested by the Royal Bhutan Police in Samtse district on the charges of being members of Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) from 25 May – 19 June 2007. The arrested persons included women as well as children as young as 3 years old. In December 2007, the Samtse district court sentenced 30 of them to jail terms ranging from five to nine years under the National Security Act of Bhutan, 1992 and the Penal Code of Bhutan, 2004. The whereabouts of 9 others were not known after their arrests. The convicted persons were allegedly denied access to fair trial. Bhutan does not have an independent judiciary.

According to Human Rights Organization of Bhutan (HUROB), four cadres of Bhutan Communist Party Marxist Leninist and Maoist (BCP-MLM), who were Nepali-speaking Bhutanese were allegedly brutally killed by the Royal Bhutan Police in February 2008 and another eight persons have been arrested. The status of the arrested persons is not known.

The United States has proposed to resettle over 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in the US. While this is a welcome step, the proposal has also generated much debate as to whether it would mean providing the Bhutanese government a feeling that it could do without taking back its citizens who wouldn’t be accepted for third country resettlement or even expelling some more in the hope that some other countries will be willing to accept them. Indeed, before taking up any third country resettlement programme the international community must obtain a written assurance from the government of Bhutan to take back the remaining refugees with all the respect they deserve.

The 2005 census of Bhutan has already identified about 80,000 persons as “foreigners” out of total population of 634,972. Majority of these “foreigners” are said to be ethnic Nepalis. In December 2005, the Association of Press Freedom Activists of Bhutan alleged that the government of Bhutan resettled people from the ruling community on the lands of the ethnic Nepali refugees in Dagana, Punakha, Samdrup Jongkhar, Sarpang, Samtse and Tsirang.

While Bhutan is going to script history by holding its first ever general elections to elect the Lower House of Parliament on 24 March 2008, hundreds of ethnic Nepalis of Bhutan have been allegedly denied Voter Photo Identity Cards for not having No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the police. Indeed, any elections must be inclusive and fair to be deemed as legitimate and acceptable by the international community.

Only two parties - Druk Phuensum Tshogpa headed by former Home Minister Jigmi Y Thinley and People’s Democratic Party headed by former Prime Minister Sangay Ngedup – both of them are very close to the palace – have been allowed to contest the historic elections. Whichever party comes to power and rule Bhutan will oppose the repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees from Nepal as a policy.

Although the people will be given the right to have their say, the King will remain all-powerful. Bhutan’s draft constitution is nothing more than a replica of the condemned 1998 Constitution of Maldives. Today, President of Maldives, Maumoon Abdul Gayoom is Asia’s longest-serving leader and has ruled Maldives with iron hands since 1978. If the proposed Constitution of Bhutan is adopted without suitable changes, the King of Bhutan will enjoy the same powers as that of the President of Maldives and continue to rule the socalled democratic Bhutan with absolute authority in the name of the Parliament.

The United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) has made it clear that “any doctrine of superiority based on racial differentiation is scientifically false, morally condemnable, socially unjust and dangerous, and that there is no justification for racial discrimination, in theory or in practice, anywhere”. Yet, in a society which seeks to establish “one culture, one language”, racism is bound to flourish. Under the national law, such as the Bhutan Citizenship Act of 1985 every citizen of Bhutan is required to able to speak, read and write Dzongkha, the national language, proficiently and any body may be deprived of citizenship any time if he or she criticizes the King, Country and People of Bhutan “by act or speech” “in any manner whatsoever”. It is therefore difficult to believe that the people of Bhutan will enjoy the fruits of democracy at all, as there cannot be any independent media or democratic space to express dissent or opposition under the prevailing national law. In absence of any voice, racism will continue to thrive on without any check in Bhutan.

Presently, India is surrounded by sham democracies, dictators and military rulers. Therefore, the birth of yet another sham democracy in our neighborhood, emitting odor of racism, is certainly not a good news.

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Viewers reading this also read Bhutan: Where is real democracy?

Saturday, February 9, 2008

India-Bangladesh border fencing in Mizoram sector: Blatant rights abuses by the NBCC

[ Note: This is a Movement for Justice. For more information , write to Paritosh Chakma at pchakma@gmail.com ]


I. Background to India-Bangladesh border fencing in Mizoram

The government of India has been erecting fencing along its 4096.7 km-long border with Bangladesh running through five Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram in order to stop infiltration, smuggling and other alleged anti-India activities from across the border.

In Mizoram, the fencing is being erected along 318 km-long international border with Bangladesh. Out of the 318 kms border from Marpara to Borapansuri which is being fenced, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) has been given the major share of 147 kms while Border Roads Organization (BRO) is fencing 70 kms, Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) 55 kms and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC) 46 kms.

The border fencing has hit hard the already poverty-stricken Chakma tribals. A house to house survey conducted by Indo-Bangladesh Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee (IBBFARDCOM) of Mizoram found that the fencing will displace a total of 5,790 Chakma tribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages.

Apart from loss of their immovable houses and properties, the villagers will lose already developed wet rice cultivation lands, horticulture gardens, gardens for growing vegetables and other cash crops, tree plantations of high commercial values like teak etc, community/ government assets like schools, health sub-centres, community halls, market places, places of worship, play grounds, cemetery/ grave yards, water ponds, water supply, and other government/ council office buildings, etc. The consequences of the mass displacement will be disastrous unless the government take concrete steps to provide all the facilities, including clean water supply, roads as the rivers will fall outside the fencing, markets, schools and primary health centres among others.

II. Violations by the four implementing agencies

The four implementing agencies of the border fencing – the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC), Border Roads Organization (BRO), Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC) – have been blatantly violating the rules since day one.

These four implementing agencies refused to follow the guidelines for acquisition of the lands set by the Ministry of Home Affairs prior to construction of the fencing. In its various communications to the four implementing agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs clearly stated that the four construction companies “shall be responsible for liaisoning with the State Government/ local authorities for acquisition of land and getting forest/ environment clearance for carrying out the fencing & related works”, and that they “shall finalize the alignment of the fencing in consultation with BSF (Border Security Forces) & DM (District Magistrate) of the area where the fencing is proposed”. But the four construction companies had started acquiring lands and erecting the fencing in their respective portions without any consultation with the tribal inhabitants or the local authorities, including the DM and the BSF.

In the beginning the Chakmas have willingly gave the lands in the interest of the country’s security and did not show any sign of protest. But as the implementing agencies began to blatantly violate the rules/ guidelines of MHA, the Chakmas under the aegis of Indo-Bangladesh Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee have been demanding suspension of the border fencing project.


III. Blatant rights abuses by the NBCC

The NBCC is the only implementing agency which has failed to provide any compensation to the affected families so far. The graveness of the matter can be gauged from the fact that the NBCC is constructing fencing along147 km out of total 318 kms Mizoram border.

The verification of the affected families was completed nearly one year ago and even the list of the compensation to be paid to the affected families has reportedly been out.

The denial of compensation is a grave offence. Displacement poses the questions of survival and other rights issues. It involves right to food, education, livelihood, etc. The NBCC has also questioned the dignity of the entire Chakma community by denying any compensation. The injustice done to the fencing affected Chakmas is injustice to the entire people of Mizoram which the people of Mizoram won't tolerate.

The NBCC has failed to provide any explanation except that the Ministry of Home Affairs has not released compensation to the company to be paid to the victims. But this cannot be true. There are four implementing agencies in Mizoram and there cannot be reasons why the MHA would not have released compensation money to NBCC while it has already released compensation money to the three other implementing agencies.

IV. The Chakmas' movement

Since 13 January 2008, hundreds of Chakmas including women and children have been protesting at Marpara village near India-Bangladesh border in Lunglei district against the denial of compensation by the NBCC and halted any construction work of the NBCC.

On 18 January 2008, Mr SK Pandit, Deputy Project Manager of NBCC, Mizoram sector, signed an agreement with the protestors at Marpara to release compensation by 31 January 2008 following which the protest was temporarily suspended.

But the NBCC failed to keep its promise. The Chakmas therefore re-started their peaceful protests indefinitely and vowed not to allow any further construction of the fencing in Lunglei district by the NBCC.

On 3 February 2008, another meeting was held with NBCC officials at Marpara and a written agreement was signed between the Chakma leaders and Arun Kumar, a representative from the NBCC to provide compensation by 28 February 2008. The agreement was also signed by Officer-In-Charge of Marpara Police Station as witness. The meeting was among others attended by officials from the local Border Security Force camp and leaders of Marpara Village Council.

The Chakmas are fighting democratically for justice. They want justice to be done with them and will settle for no less. FULL compensation and PROPER rehabilitation will be the ultimate aim......>>>>

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For other resources: please see

Of fencing and injustice

Chakmas threaten stir over border fencing

Press Release: Displaced Chakmas urged NBCC to provide compensation

Border fencing: Is Aizawl ready to wipe Chakmas’ tears?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Of fencing and injustice

By: Paritosh Chakma

The government of India has been constructing fencing along the 318-km long stretch of Mizoram-Bangladesh border to contain any anti-India activities from the other side of the porous borders. Out of the 318 kms border from Marpara to Borapansuri which is being fenced, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) has been given the major share of 147 kms while Border Roads Organization (BRO) is fencing 70 kms, Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) 55 kms and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC) 46 kms. The border fencing project will effectively uproot not less than 5,790 Chakma tribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages.

Grave injustice is being done to the affected families who belong to Chakma tribe. First, the four implementing agencies began to acquire the lands of the villagers by breaking all rules. They even did not think it necessary to follow the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs while acquiring the lands. In its various communications to the four implementing agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs clearly stated that the four construction companies “shall be responsible for liaisoning with the State Government/ local authorities for acquisition of land and getting forest/ environment clearance for carrying out the fencing & related works”, and that they “shall finalize the alignment of the fencing in consultation with BSF (Border Security Forces) & DM (District Magistrate) of the area where the fencing is proposed”. But the four construction companies had started acquiring lands and erecting the fencing in their respective portions without any consultation with the tribal inhabitants or the local authorities, including the DM and the BSF.

Now, the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd (NBCC) which is fencing the largest portion has refused to pay any compensation to the affected families in Lunglei district although the verification of the beneficiaries have been completed nearly one year ago.

Since 13 January 2008, the Chakmas have been peacefully protesting at Marpara village in Lunglei district demanding compensation. So far, two “written agreements” have been signed between the protestors and the NBCC officials at Marpara. The first was signed by S K Pandit, Deputy Project Manager of NBCC, Mizoram sector, on 18 January 2008 who agreed to release compensation by the end of January 2008. But the promise was not kept. When the Chakmas restarted their protest, Mr Arun Kumar from the NBCC reached another agreement on 3 February 2008 to thwart the protest. This time, the NBCC official promised to release compensation by 28 February 2008 in front of the Officer-In-Charge of Marpara Police Station and the officials from the local BSF camp.

Surprisingly, there is no accountability mechanism to fix responsibility. The officials of NBCC who met the Chakma protestors failed to provide any valid explanations as to why there has been inordinate delay in releasing the compensation while three other construction companies engaged in fencing in Mizoram namely, Engineering Projects India Limited, National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd. and Border Roads Organization have already released some compensation in their respective portions.

On 1 February 2008, Home Minister of Mizoram, Mr Tawnluia visited Marpara and met the border fencing protestors. But he too assured no help. He only provided moral support saying that protestors had the “genuine” reasons to protest.

Now it seems that the would-be-displaced Chakmas of Lunglei district have been forsaken both by the Central government and the state government of Mizoram. They have now been forgotten after they had given away their lands and properties in the interest of the country’s security. It is extremely unfortunate that they are now being asked to fend for themselves.

It is equally pathetic that the government of Mizoram has been acting as a mute spectator to the crisis. Instead, the Zoramthanga government must take a pro-active role and intervene to provide justice to the already beleaguered Chakma victims of border fencing. The NBCC headquarters which swears by its “zero tolerance for corruption” policy must immediately order an investigation for the inordinate delay in the disbursement of relief by the NBCC, Mizoram sector to the India-Bangladesh border fencing affected families in Lunglei district.

For the simple Chakma tribals it is hard to believe that they will have to see this day even after they have willingly gave away their lands for the interest of the country. However, if the demands are not met, there is every possibility that the patients of the protestors could wane due to the delay and the indifferent attitude of the officials. The Mizoram government through its gazette notification issued on 27th October 2006 (Issue No. 272) under the Land Acquisition Act had warned that “All persons interested in the said land [318 km land from Marpara to Borapansuri] are hereby warned not to obstruct or interfere with any Surveyor or other persons employed upon the said land for the purpose of the said acquisition” (Clause 3 of the notification). The ongoing protests at Marpara may well be deemed as “obstruction” or “inference” while the genuine grievances of the victims are being ignored. If that so happens and the government takes action against the peaceful protestors, it will be a black day for the people of Mizoram as a whole, as it will be a symbolic mark that injustice rules the roost in the state and finds acceptance within the cabinet.

In the meantime, the NBCC can sit at ease and forget the Chakma protestors up to the end of this month. However, it must not take for granted that the Chakmas can be fooled for yet another round by lobbing another promise which won’t be kept.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Displaced Chakmas protest NBCC border fencing

Aizawl Saturday, Feb 2 2008 IST

The Mizo Chakma tribe has accused the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) of failing to compensate the families affected by the Indo-Bangladesh border fencing project in Lunglei district.

The NBCC had assured the people of releasing the compensation by January 31.
In a meeting, attended by the representatives from the India-Bangladesh Border Fencing Compensation Demand Committee, Young Chakma Association, and others at Marpara recently, the Chakmas resolved not to allow any further construction there till the compensation is paid.

''NBCC has been duping us. While the Chakmas in other districts have already got some compensation, the people in Lunglei district have not received it yet. We want justice,'' Committee secretary Nihar Chakma stated.

Hundreds of Chakmas, including women and children, had been protesting against the border fencing project at Marpara since January 13, following delay in compensation.

However, on January 18, the protests were temporarily suspended after NBCC Deputy Project Manger, Mizoram sector, S K Pandit, made an agreement with the protestors at Marpara to release compensation by January end.

The NBCC had been constructing the fence along the 318-km-long Indo-Bangla border stretch in Mizoram.

The project would displace 5,790 Chakma families consisting of 35.438 people from 49 villages, according to the Indo-Bangla Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee.
-- UNI

Chakmas threaten stir over border fencing

The Shillong Times, 3 February 2008
From Our Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI: Close on the heels of tribals complaining about border fencing, Chakmas from Mizoram have threatened of agitation if compensation is not paid to them.

The Chakmas of Mizoram strongly criticised the National Building Construction Corporation (NBCC) for its alleged failure to keep its promise to release compensation to the families affected by the India-Bangladesh border-fencing project under Lunglei district. In a meeting attended by the representatives from the India-Bangladesh Border Fencing Compensation Demand Committee, Young Chakma Association, Mahila Samity, Mizoram Chakma Students Union and the Village Council here, the Chakmas adopted a strong resolution against the NBCC.

The organisations also vowed not to allow any further construction of fencing along the India-Bangladesh border in Lunglei district until compensation is provided to all the affected families.

The NBCC has failed to release the compensation money in the Lunglei district where it is engaged in the fencing, a statement said.

"We have given our lands, now we want justice to be done with us," the statement said.

Hundreds of Chakmas including women and children have been protesting against the border fencing project at Marpara since last month.

The Centre has taken up fencing along with 318 km-long stretch in Mizoram sector along the India-Bangladesh border, which will displace 5,790 Chakma tribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages.

(See link: http://www.theshillongtimes.com/a-3-feb.htm )