Monday, May 24, 2010

Mizoram: Inclusion, not exclusion is the answer

By Paritosh Chakma

In my post “Is Mizoram becoming a radical society?” I have narrated the ordeal suffered by three Buddhist monks at the hands of some hooligans in Mizoram, a Christian dominated state in North East India. Of the three victims was Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu who was attacked by a group of about 10 youths on the night of 19 May 2010 near Phuldungsei in Mamit district. The attackers kicked, punched the monk wherever they liked and bit his bald head. The beastly nature of the attack is evident.

The next day (20 May) two other Buddhist monks were physically intimidated (one of the monk’s ears were pulled by the two attackers) while traveling in a government bus in Mamit district. As the monks were humiliated, other passengers quietly watched and enjoyed the scene.

In “Is Mizoram becoming a radical society?” I have asked a question – “Is Mizoram sliding into a society where shameful acts like pulling the ears of a religious teacher in full public view tolerated? Towards the transformation into radicalism the first thing a society needs is the silent acceptance or tolerance of attacks (whether verbal or physical) on minority community people or religion by the majority.”

I am happy to clarify here that majority of those (mainly Mizos) who have commented on the issue have strongly condemned/objected to the attacks on the Buddhist monks in Mizoram.

Yet there are a few who think it was on expected line and justified the attacks. Of them is one “dinchhuaha” who while commenting to the attack on Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu wrote on 21 May 2010:

“(Chakma) Bangladesh Refugee trying to create seperate (sic) state in Mizoram is shameful. All the chakmas shoul be send back (sic) to their Native place (Chittagong Hill Tracts)”.
For readers who are not aware of Chittagong Hill Tracts, it is in Bangladesh.

His statement is replete with hatred, xenophobia, exclusionist attitude, and misconception about the Chakmas of Mizoram. May be he is not aware that the Chakmas are the largest minority community in Mizoram (with over 8% of the total state’s population). The Chakmas have been granted Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) way back in 1972 under the provisions of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India like that of Lai and Mara ADCs. He has no idea that Chakmas are as much natives of Mizoram as the Mizos are.

The likes of “dinchhuaha” would want to have everything for themselves and won’t like to share anything with others (read "minorities"). Even the Mizos of Mizoram are a small minority group in a nation of the size of India. The likes of “dinchhuaha” would love to live in a democracy when they are living/travelling in Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata etc but would love to deny the same freedom to the minority groups when they are in their own state. They would cry “equality, liberty, fraternity” when they face harassment/ discrimination/attacks in other states but won’t recognize these principles in their home turf where they only believe that they alone have the right to live in this particular territory. Anything that is not similar to their language, culture, religion, and tradition should banish.

Still many others disbelieved the case of attacks on Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu. Now Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu has himself commented (see comment no.2):

“I am Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu (who got attack on 19th night). ……. It was really shocking for me that I can travel freely in whole India and in foreign country without any problem but in my own birthplace I cannot travel freely.”
I know this Buddhist monk personally and let me give a few details of his life. Ven. Kaccayana Bhikkhu has studied in Bangalore and became a monk in October 1997. He has served in Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre in Leh, Ladakh (Jammu and Kashmir) and visited foreign countries like Thailand.

The comment of Ven. Kaccayana Bikkhu reminds me of the comments made by Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla in a seminar in Singapore that he was often “a victim of racism” when he visits other parts of India. "In India, people ask me if I am an Indian", he said. Contrast this with Mizoram’s Buddhist monk’s statement that he can’t move freely in his “own birthplace” (i.e. Mizoram) although he travels freely across the entire nation and abroad.

Ven. Kaccayana Bikkhu concludes his comment by stating – “I am still not fully recovered as they have kick and punch me everywhere, most serious is teeth imprint on my head and a kick at my left jaw because of which I still cannot chew any food and I am surviving only on Noodle (food) and going on medical theatment (sic) in my village.”

The moral of this story is: What the Mizos feel in mainland India the Chakmas feel in Mizoram. The need of the hour is to stump out the exclusiionist policies and bring inclusion both in the policies/programmes of the government as well as in our mindsets. Inclusion, not exclusion is the answer.

8 comments:

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