By Paritosh Chakma
Published in Merinews.com, 12 December, 2011
[The Indian Chakmas are angry over the fact their brethren in Bangladesh were forcibly identified as 'Bengalees' in the recently amended Constitution of Bangladesh.]
INDIAN CHAKMAS have expressed their anger at ‘Bengali tag’ of their brethren, which is aimed at ‘destruction of their identity’ in the recently amended constitution of Bangladesh. Fifteen Indian Chakma civil society organizations submitted a joint “protest letter” to the visiting Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister of Bangladesh, Mr Dipankar Talukdar at Kamala Nagar, headquarters of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in South Mizoram today, protesting against his alleged support to the unacceptable reference of the Chakmas and other indigenous peoples including Lushai, Tripuri, Garo etc as “Bengalees” in the recently amended Constitution of Bangladesh.
The Chakmas from Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh through their civil society organizations expressed the “angst of the Indian Chakmas” against the “destruction of identity of the Chakmas in Bangladesh” as a consequent to the 15th Amendment to the Constitution of Bangladesh passed on 30th June 2011 which has branded the Chakmas and other indigenous peoples including Lushai, Tripuri, Garo as “Bengalees”.
The Chakmas civil society organizations have demanded a "written assurance" from Dipankar Talukdar (who also belongs to Chakma community) that after his return to Bangladesh he will take all the necessary measures to impress upon the Sheikh Hasina government to recognize the Chakmas and other ethnic communities as “indigenous peoples” in the Constitution of Bangladesh.
The Indian Chakmas also demanded Mr Talukdar’s personal intervention in his capacity as Member of Parliament and Minister of CHT Affairs for speedy and full implementation of the CHT Peace Accord of 1997 signed between the Government of Bangladesh and the indigenous peoples of CHT which would help restore peace and bring development to the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
The 15 signatory organizations to the memorandum are Mizoram Chakma Development Forum, Tripura Chakma Students Association, Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union, MAADI, Meghalaya Chakma Students Union, Guwahati Chakma Students Union, Barak Valley Chakma Students Association, The Chakma Voice, Mumbai Chakma Association, Dibrugarh Chakma Students Union, Mizoram Chakma Students Union, the Central Young Chakma Association, Mizoram Chakma Social Forum, Mizoram Buddhist Association and Chakma Mahila Samiti.