Thursday, November 10, 2016

Take Action: Build a bridge on Karnafuli river (Demagiri, Mizoram)

Demagiri, or Tlabung, in Western Mizoram near to the India-Bangladesh border, is a British era village (now a sub town). The British had set up their foremost frontier post here during the Lushai Expedition in 1871-72 and finally annexed the Lushai hills in 1890s. Demagiri was the gateway of British conquest of Lushai hills (present day Mizoram) and Lt Col TH Lewin had set up his headquarters here. The British came to conquer Lushai hills through the Karnafuli river, also known to Chakmas as Borgang, over which the mighty Kaptai Dam was built by the East Pakistan government in 1960s.  

Tragically, as of date there is no bridge over the Karnafuli river. The river which has swollen due to the Kaptai Dam waters, divides Indian villages and as many as 17 Indian villages, predominantly inhabited by Chakma tribal people, are on the other side of the river (bordering Bangladesh). An estimate stated that around 7,000 people live on the other side of the Karnafuli river. 

The villages which are situated on the other side of the Karnafuli river are (1) Nunsury I, (2) Nunsury II, (3) Bindiasora, (4) Tablabagh I, (5) Tablabagh II, (6) Tablabagh III, (7) Kalapani, (8) Lokkisury, (9) Malsury, (10) Devasora, (11) Puankhai, (12) Nakruksora, (13) Bandiasora, (14) New Balukiasuri, (15) Saichen, (16) Hmundo and (17) Mauzam.

Due to lack of a bridge over the Karnafuli river which according to me is one of the biggest rivers of Mizoram, flowing into Bangladesh, these border people are facing untold sufferings and remained disconnected with the rest of India.

Every day, dozens of tribal school children from the other side of the river put their lives at risk while crossing the fearful river of Karnafuli by small boats to come to schools at Demagiri (Tlabung) which is on the opposite side of the river (Indian side). (See the photograph of school children dangerously crossing the Karnafuli river by small boat at the risk of their lives while going to school.)

The only civil hospital is also situated at Demagiri which is inaccessible to the border people living on the other side of the river. In the absence of a bridge over the Karnafuli river, the villagers are forced to take motor boats which are quite expensive for the impoverished villagers. Lack of ability to pay the ferry charges directly result in denial of access to markets, banking and post office, schools, and communication facilities etc.

If a bridge is constructed over the Karnafuli river, the border inhabitants of these villages shall be uplifted not only economically in terms of access to markets and business but also in terms of access to education, health services, and other social welfare facilities. 

Above all, a bridge over the Karnafuli river will restore freedom of movement of these Indian citizens within their country from which they have been tragically deprived in independent India.

Therefore, the Government of India/Government of Mizoram should take urgent measures to build a bridge over the Karnafuli river at Demagiri.

Friday, October 28, 2016

AICSU performs at North East students festival in Delhi

On 22 October, 2016, the cultural troupe of the All India Chakma Students Union (AICSU) performed at the NESt Fest (North East Students Festival) programme organized by My Home India at 8, Ashoka Road, New Delhi.

Dance Video:

The full HD video of the Chakma dance is available at AICSU's official Youtube channel:

Friday, June 24, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Today Guwahati High Court stayed the operation of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016

C3/441, Top Floor, JANAKPURI, NEW DELHI-110058

24 June 2016


AICSU welcomes stay granted by the Guwahati High Court this morning of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 

New DelhiThe All India Chakma Students Union (AICSU) welcomes the stay order granted by the Honourable Guwahati High Court this morning i.e. 24 June 2016 on the operation of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 on the PIL No. 49/2016 filed by the Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) challenging the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2016 which was notified on 20th April 2016 by the Higher and Technical Education Department of Mizoram. 

The Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2016 reserve 95% seats for Category I (Zo-ethnic people) while giving only 4% seats to Category II (Non-Zo ethnic people including Chakmas who are scheduled tribes and more backward than the Mizos) and 1% to children of Central government employees posted in Mizoram. Further, the State Medical and Technical Entrance Examination Information Brochure 2016” provides that Category I candidates (Mizos) will get first priority to take the seats/colleges and only the left out seat, if any, will be given to Category II candidates i.e. Chakmas and other non Mizo scheduled Tribes. This means effectively reserving 100% of the seats for the ethnic Mizos. 

The Higher and Technical Education Department has declared the allotment of seats but it is found that not a single seat in Engineering or MBBS has been allotted to Category II. This means that Chakma students despite scoring good marks in the State Medical and Technical Entrance Examination of 2016 would not get any MBBS or Engineering college despite being Scheduled Tribes like the Mizos.  

Earlier in 2015 the Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) had filed a PIL (no. 39/2015) in Guwahati High Court challenging the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) (Sixth Amendment) Rules of 2015 by dividing the Scheduled Tribes into indigenous i.e. Mizos and non indigenous (non-Mizo scheduled tribes) and reserving all the seats for the indigenous ethnic Zos. On 16 July 2015, the Guwahati High Court disposed of the PIL after the Mizoram government withdrew the Sixth Amendment Rules of 2015 and put the Chakmas under Category I (indigenous people). 

But this year again, the Mizoram government issued fresh notice and played fraud upon the Hon’ble Guwahati High Court as it included Chakmas under Category II under the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 by effectively providing 100% reservation of seats for the ethnic Zos. [Ends]

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuichawng Chhuah violence: A group of people claiming to be from MSU burnt down Govt Primary School on 26 February 2016

On 26.2.2016, a group of Mizo students claiming themselves to belong to Mizo Students Union (MSU), an influential student body, allegedly burnt down the  Government Primary School at Tuichawng chhuah village under Tlabung Police Station in Lunglei district of Mizoram, according to reports received from various Chakma NGOs working on the ground, including Mizoram Chakma Alliance Against Discrimination (MCAAD), the Young Chakma Association (YCA) and Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) and the villagers of Tuichawng Chhuah who filed a police complaint against the MSU at Tlabung Police Station after the arson.

After the violence, the Mizoram government took prompt action by providing security to the Chakma villagers by stationing Mizoram Armed Police personnel at Tuichawng Chhauh village.

The MSU in a statement has denied the allegations that it had anything to do with the burning down of the school at Tuichawng Chhuah but media reported that 9 top leaders of MSU were arrested by Lunglei Police in connection with the torching of the school and put behind bars for one day, before they were released after strong protests by the Joint Mizo NGOs.

The minority Chakma families have been living at Tuichawng Chhuah for over four decades and the government of Mizoram has extended all the facilities including school, assistance under New Land Use Policy, ration card, voter cards, electricity etc. However, out of a sudden on 17.12.2015, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Lunglei District, Mizoram issued eviction notice to 49 Chakma minority families of Tuichawng Chhuah to vacate the village. A writ petition No. WP(C) 134/2016 was filed before the Guwahati High Court which in its order dated 08.01.2016 stayed the eviction order of the Mizoram Govt.

Below are some of the media coverage of the incident.

Monday, February 8, 2016

TUICHAWNG CHHUAH: Forcible evictions of Chakma minorities after Mizo student body diktat

By Paritosh Chakma

On 5 February 2016 (Friday), the Chakma students residing in Delhi staged a spirited protest under  the banner of the All India Chakma Students’ Union (AICSU) at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi against the Mizoram government. The Chakma students were protesting against illegal eviction of the Tuichawng Chhuah village (Chakmas call it “Toijongdor”) in Lunglei district, despite a stay order from the Guwahati High Court.

The Tuichawng Chhuah village has 49 families consisting of 224 persons. All of them are Chakma minorities.

Mizo Students Union’s diktat: Chakmas should leave Tuichawng Chhuah village because they had asked them to leave

It all started with a visit by a powerful student body of the majority community to a poor impoverished village inhabited by minority. On 21 November 2015, three leaders of Mizo Students Union (MSU) reportedly visited Tuichawng Chhuah along with two policemen. The MSU leaders wanted to know how they (Chakmas) were living there without permission and issued a verbal diktat to the 49 Chakma families to voluntarily leave the village by 31st December 2015!

The Mizo student body followed up the diktat with another visit by 15 leaders of MSU on 1st December 2015 and allegedly threatened to burn the village. Vanglaini, largest circulated Mizo daily, on 3rd December 2015 reported about the eviction notice by the MSU (though not in too many words).

The wish of the MSU became the command for officials. On 2 December 2015, two officials from the Revenue department visited Tuichawng Chhuah. On 13 December 2015, Mr Lalchhanhima, Block Development Officer (BDO) of Lungsen paid a visit.

On 15 December 2015, Shri Ashish Madhaorao More, Deputy Commissioner, Lunglei district  convened a high-level meeting at his office chamber in which the Block Development Officer, Sub Divisional Officer, Superintendent of Police, Village Council President of Tuichawng and leaders of Mizo Students Union attended. In that meeting, MSU leaders had allegedly told that they are going ahead with the eviction no matter what the facts are because they had asked the Chakmas to leave.

Then came the eviction notice from the Lunglei district administration. Eviction order No. K.23012/2/2013-DCL© dated 17.12.2015 issued by Mr Rothuama, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Lunglei district, Lunglei, Mizoram directing The President, Village Council, Tuichawng to ask the 49 Chakma families of Tuichawng Chhuah to vacate the village at the earliest. The eviction notice made no mention of why should the Chakmas were being asked to vacate?

Worst, on 21 December 2015, two officials from Local Administration Department (LAD), Lunglei forcibly collected signatures from the villagers of Tuichawng Chhuah on documents which stated that they are living on unauthorized settlement!

Guwahati High Court stay order

On 8 January 2016, the Guwahati High Court stayed the eviction notice dated 17 December 2015 issued by the Additional Deputy Commissioner of Lunglei district. The eviction notice was challenged by the Chakma villagers (writ petition W.P. (C) No. 134 of 2016).

But the Mizoram government officials think that they are above the rule of law and the judiciary. On 21 January 2016, Mr C Thatkgunga, Secretary to the Government of Mizoram, Local Administration Department issued fresh eviction order under Section 26(2)(a) of the Lushai Hill District (Village Councils) Act, 1953 directing Chakmas of Tuichawng Chhuah to vacate the village within one month.

It is a shame that the District administration sent two officials to threaten the Chakmas on the Republic Day (26th January 2016). When the whole nation was celebrating freedom, Chakma minorities were being threatened with eviction. Two officials wanted to forcibly obtain the signatures from the terrified villagers on a document which stated that they were staying on illegal land.

The great Indian Republic should be ashamed of such repression on Chakma minorities in Mizoram.

Illegal evictions: Tuichawng Chhuah village getting government facilities since 1977

As per as available official records, the Tuichawng Chhuah villagers have been provided various assistance by the Government of Mizoram since 1977 (although the village had been in existence much before) which included the following:

  • Garden Passes since 1977, 
  • financial assistance for sustainable livelihood under New Land Use Policy (NLUP) programme since 1991
  • a primary school under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) established in 2004
  • electricity since 2012
  • Villagers enrolled in Electoral Rolls and exercise their voting rights
  • Ration Cards
  • NREGS job cards

It is surprising under what situation they are being dubbed as illegal and asked to vacate their village where they have been living for generations.

Dilip Chakma, President, All India Chakma Students’ Union (AICSU) explains:

“The action of the Government of Mizoram to evict the 49 Chakma minority families of Tuichawng Chhuah is totally illegal and unconstitutional and being done to satisfy the Mizo Students Union (MSU). This stands exposed from the eviction notice dated 21.1.2016 of the Local Administration Department which was marked to the President of Mizo Students Union (MSU) General Headquarters Aizawl and the President, MSU Sub Headquarters, Lunglei who have no locus standi in the eyes of the law pertaining to the eviction notice.”

It is clear the Chakmas are being targeted for being minorities. Tuichawng Chhuah is not an isolated incident. Earlier on 30 June 2013, the Mizo Students Union (MSU) with the support of the Mizoram Police illegally evicted 48 Chakma families from Sibinesora village under Lungsen Village Council area in Lunglei district. Vanglaini dt 1st July 2013 reported about the eviction of Sibinasora village by MSU

The Sibinesora eviction of 2013 was outrageously illegal. The villagers were getting all sorts of facilities, incuding school, ration card, voting rights, assistance under NLUP, et. There was no eviction notice from the Government of Mizoram, but the MSU served an eviction notice and evicted the 48 Chakma families.

Emboldened by their success, the MSU is now trying to evict the Chakma families of Tuichawng Chhuah. But unlike the Sibinesora incident, the matter of Tuichawng Chhuah is now under the consideration of the Guwahati High Court. 

I sincerely believe that Chakmas of Tuichawng Chhuah will get justice and the Guwahati High Court will once again tell loud and clear that no body is above the rule of law.

Brief report on Chakma Bizu 2017 celebration with Gandhian institute in Delhi

For the first time the Chakma Buddhist Society (CBS) has organised Bizu Miloni programme in partnership with Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Sam...