Monday, June 1, 2009

Chakmas face discrimination in Mizoram

According to the ACHR report, the state government has failed to provide Chakmas access to basic healthcare facilities. Most villages had no health care facilities at all and the poor villagers lived at the mercy of ojhas (traditional herbal doctors).
CJ: Paritosh Chakma

Meri News, http://www.merinews.com/catFull.jsp?articleID=15771276

A REGIONAL human rights watchdog, the Asian Centre for Human Rights in its report “2009 India Human Rights Report,” released in New Delhi on Friday, accused Mizoram of practising “systematic discrimination” against minorities. The ACHR stated that minorities were denied employment, basic healthcare, education and right to development. The state government has failed to “address systematic discrimination against minorities – ethnic, linguistic and religious,” the report added.

The ACHR alleged that Chakma minorities who live outside the Chakma Autonomous District Council have to face “more discrimination and neglect.” Majority Chakmas live on the border with Bangladesh and the Central funds for the development of the border areas under the Border Area Development Programme have been misused. The report claimed the Ministry of Home Affairs released Rs 1,556 lakh during 2004-05, Rs 903.48 lakh during 2005-06, Rs 2262 lakh during 2006-07 and Rs 2086 lakh during 2007-08, to Mizoram under BADP. But the ACHR team during its visit to the border areas “found very limited evidence of development activities.”

The state government failed to provide Chakmas access to basic healthcare facilities. Most villages had no health care facilities at all and the poor villagers lived at the mercy of “ojhas” (traditional herbal doctors). Deaths of children were often not recorded.

According to the report, Chakma minorities faced discrimination in state employment. Various recruitment rules have been legislated requiring linguistic minority candidates to pass Mizo subject up to Middle School level to be eligible for government jobs. There is no provision for teaching Mizo subject in schools in Chakma villages and hence they faced “regular discrimination” in government employment. Due to such institutionalised discrimination, the Chakmas’ representation in government services in Mizoram remained negligible.

The report also highlighted the problems of compensation and rehabilitation faced by the Chakmas who have lost their lands by the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing, a project of the Ministry of Home Affairs. A total of 35,438 Chakma tribals from 49 villages along the international border would be displaced. Although their lands and houses have been either destroyed or acquired by the government under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the state Home Department has stated that the government did not consider the out-fenced Chakmas as displaced.

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