By Paritosh Chakma
The elections are the best season for the voters to demand something from the political parties and the government in power which is seeking re-election.
It is also the best time for the voters to express their angst and dissatisfaction with the things around them. The political class has no option but to give way to the voters’ demand (whether these demands will be fulfilled or not does not matter), lest the voters decide against them on the D-Day. In other times, who listens to the woos of the common man? He has to run from pillar to post in search of justice.
Hence, the elections I think are god’s gifts in a democracy.
The Chakmas of Mizoram also seem to have realized the importance of their votes – which is good for them. This time around, they have threatened to boycott the forthcoming General Elections if compensation is not paid to them for their losses due to the India-Bangladesh Border Fencing. I have been thinking of this for a long time. I thought whether the Chakmas were politically awakened enough or united enough so as to boycott the elections for realizing their demands. In mainland India such threats have always dominated the press and the media.
Recently the Chakma representatives from three villages – Marpara South, Tarabonye and New Sachan (along the India-Bangladesh border) met Mizoram governor Lt Gen (Rtd) M M Lakhera to express their concerns. They have made it clear that unless justice in terms of providing proper compensation was provided, they are going to boycott the elections.
The total voters population of these three villages are not much (could be less than 1500) but their action could have enough political significance in a democracy like India and the good name which Mizoram as a peaceful, progressive state enjoys. Hence, the Governor has assured all help to assuage their concerns with regard to border fencing and the Chakma villagers have reportedly withdrawn their threat.
Recently, the government of Mizoram has stated that Chakmas who have fallen outside the border fencing are NOT displaced because the border fencing is not the international boundary. Hence, the displaced persons are free to stay where they are. (see, "Chakma fencing victims not displaced: Mizoram govt", http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15710225 ). It means, the government has no plans to rehabilitate and resettle them. The Chakmas have since grown quite restless and suspicious of the government’s motives.
If the victims are not rehabilitated, it will have long term negative impacts on their lives. (For details of it, see "The Border Burden", http://paritosh-chakma.blogspot.com/2009/02/border-burden.html)
It will be a black day for democracy in Mizoram if the displaced Chakmas, who have lost everything they had, given up for national interest, are not resettled and looked after properly. These ethnic minority people will loss faith totally in the administration system controlled by the Mizos. Any move against proper compensation, resettlement and rehabilitation will prove to be detrimental to Mizoram’s peace, progress and development.