Monday, April 24, 2017

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 Samiti (GSDS), an autonomous body under the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The programme was held on 13th April 2017 on the auspicious occasion of Phul Bizu at Satya Graha Mandap in the premises of Gandhi Darshan at Rajghat, New Delhi.

The Bizu is the most important festival of our Chakma Tribal community. Over 350 members of the Chakma Tribal community residing in Delhi and NCR attended the programme.

The programme was graced by eminent social worker Shri Basawaraj Patil, Honb’le Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha, as the Chief Guest and Smt Simmi Jain, Councillor of Municipal Corporation of Delhi, as the Guest of Honour. Special Guests of the programme were Dr Gautam Talukdar, Chief Controller of Accounts, Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Government of India, Shri SA Jamal, Administrative Office, GSDS, Shri Ramesh Shiledar, Former Northeast Incharge (RSS), Shri Pramod Petkar, Pramukh, Vanavashi Kalyan Ashram, Delhi and Shri Suhas Chakma, Director, Asian Centre for Human Rights. The Convenor of the Programme was Shri Lal Mohan Chakma, General Secretary, Chakma Buddhist Society and Shri Rajdeep Pathak, Programme Officer, GSDS was the Mentor of the Programme.

The programme started with the lighting of lamps by the Chief Guest, dignitaries and special guests and followed by prayers of Buddhist principles of Panchasheela for peace and harmony by Buddhist Monks. Then, the dignitaries were honoured with Chakma “haadi” and the GSDS also presented miniature “Gandhian Charka” to the chief guest and other special guests.

Shri Paritosh Chakma, Co-Convenor of Bizu Organising Committee welcomed all the dignitaries, guests and members of the Chakma community and shared warm greetings on the occasion of Phul Bizu and best wishes for the new year. He also briefly explained what is Bizu.

Shri SA Jamal, Administrative Officer, GSDS also welcomed all the guests on behalf of Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti on the occasion of the Chakma Bizu Festival and presented with the audience a short presentation on Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samity the message of peace and harmony.

This was followed by a refreshing and colourful traditional dance by representatives of Chakma residents from NOIDA which set the festive mood of the audience.

Chief Guest, Shri Basawaraj Patil enlightened the audience with his speech and shared the message of unity and harmony among the communities across the country. He appealed to the audience that the spirit of peace, togetherness and harmony during the Bizu Festival should not be limited just during the festival time but the same spirit of joy and harmony should be celebrated and extended throughout the rest of the year.

Hon'ble Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha Mr Baswaraj Patil ji speaking at the progrmame 

School children of Class V from Sewa Bharati Sewa Dham from Mandoli performed a beautiful dance displaying the spirit of happiness and joy and dancing to the music of Bizu.

Guest of Honour Smt Simmi Jain in her speech shared her pleasant experience of working with the Chakma community in Delhi. She emphatically observed that Chakma’s festivals are getting better and better each year.

This was followed by a lively Bizu dance was performed by Miss Genia Chakma from Gurgaon to cheer the audience.

Shri Suhas Chakma in his speech highlighted the connection of Chakmas with Gandhian philosophy of non violence in their struggle for fundamental rights including citizenship. He said Chakmas are among the few community in the North East which have practiced the Gandhian method of struggle for rights.

In the end, a colourful traditional fashion show led by Miss Rabina Chakma showcased the beautiful traditional attires of the Chakma community which blended at ease with modernity.

The programme was concluded with vote of thanks by Shri Suhas Chakma on behalf of the Chakma community and Shri Rajdeep Pathak on behalf of the GSDS.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mizoram Hindi teachers begin another round of fight for their rights

By Paritosh Chakma

Hundreds of Hindi teachers recruited under the Central Sponsored Scheme (CSS) in Mizoram have once again gathered at a place in the heart of Aizawl and launched another round of indefinite hunger strike from the midnight of 22 March 2017 demanding regularization of their jobs. A total of 1305 CSS Hindi teachers have not been paid their salaries for the last 10 months i.e. upto February 2017 when their employment contracts expired.

Their organization, Mizoram CSS Hindi Teachers Association (MCHTA), has claimed that at least 17 Hindi  teachers have died in the last several months due to their inability to afford treatment due to non-payment of salaries. The MCHTA has put up a list of 15 of their deceased colleagues on the wall of the CM's Bungalow.

At the time of writing this report, a total of 107 Hindi teachers are being attended by doctors after their health deteriorated for not taking food. At least six teachers have been hospitalized and a pregnant lady has reportedly suffered miscarriage during the protest fasting.

The Hindi teachers are resolute to carry on their indefinite hunger strike. It is pity to see the visuals of their sufferings and certainly Mizoram government and Govt of India should look into their demands and fulfill them without lose of time. 


For those new to this issue, a background report is available here:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Court of Inquiry demanded into unnatural death of Assam Rifles jawan, Kamal Mitra Chakma from Mizoram

Probe plea into death of jawan, The Telegraph, Kolkata, 19th March 2017

A Staff Reporter
Guwahati, March 18: The All India Chakma Social Forum, an organisation working for rights of Chakmas, today urged the Union home ministry to conduct an impartial inquiry into the "custodial killing" of Kamal Mitra Chakma, a rifleman of 36 Assam Rifles posted at Jalaki in Nagaland.

In a statement today, Victor Talukdar, deputy secretary-general of the forum, alleged that Chakma was brutally assaulted at his battalion headquarters in Jalaki when he went to submit his leave application to go home to Mizoram on March 10. He was thrown outside the premises assuming that he was dead. Some people spotted him and handed him over to the Assam Rifles authorities who admitted him to Jorhat military hospital in Assam in a serious condition. He died today.

"Assam Rifles officials claimed that Chakma was injured after he fell from a building. But he did not have any head injuries but had broken bones in his leg, hand and thigh. He was lying unconscious outside the 36 Assam Rifles battalion headquarters which prove that his injuries were not due to a fall. His parents told us that Chakma told them that he was beaten up by his colleagues," Talukdar claimed.

Assam Rifles officials could not be contacted for comment.

The forum demanded the post-mortem be conducted at a government hospital to ensure impartiality in the investigation and a court of inquiry be instituted by officials outside the Assam Rifles battalions in Nagaland.

x x x           xxx      xxx          xxx   

Also, read in "Chakma forum seeks inquiry into AR rifleman's death", The Times of India, Guwahati Edition, 19th March 2017 

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Government of India: Listen to the heartbeats of 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram

By Paritosh Chakma

It is painful to see how Hindi teachers recruited under Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) have been forced to go on “indefinite hunger strike” in the heart of Aizawl, capital city of Mizoram demanding immediate release of their pending 10 months' salaries and regularization of their jobs which have effectively expired today (28th February 2017). A total of 1305 Hindi CSS teachers recruited under “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs”, under which Central government pays the salaries, are uncertain about their future. Their jobs are hanging in balance because the scheme’s guidelines state that after the Plan year (currently, 12th Five Year Plan, 2012-17) the responsibility of maintenance of these Hindi teachers “shall rest upon the concerned State Governments/UT Administrations. They will be required to discharge this responsibility out of their own resources in their budget.”

Mizoram Hindi teachers staging indefinite hunger strike at Aizawl

While the State government of Mizoram has been so far non-committal to regularize their services, the Central government has not released salaries to them for ten months now! To make the matter worst, the Central government apparently has appointed recently a private institution Awadh Research Foundation based in Lucknow to evaluate the need of the scheme in Mizoram and any further decision will be based on the recommendations of this research institute.

Since 22 February, the Mizoram Hindi Teachers Association members have been forced to resort to “Pen Down Strike”, which included boycott of classes and annual exam, and took to the streets of Aizawl demanding just decisions from the governments, i.e. to regularize/extend their services, and payment of their salaries. Left with no other option, they launched indefinite hunger strike in front of the Chief Minister’s office cum residence from yesterday.

It is unclear as to why the Ministry of Human Resources Development has not released their salaries, as no official statement in this regard has been issued by the Ministry. It is also not clear as to why the evaluation of the scheme was not done much earlier, say in 2016, which could have avoided the situation of uncertainty and chaos as we are seeing today.

However, the answer may be found in the fact that it is not the CSS Hindi teachers alone who have not been paid for months. Almost 2,200 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) teachers (which is also a Centrally Sponsored Scheme) across Mizoram have not been paid their monthly salaries since August 2016, as per a report by The Frontier Despatch, a local English weekly, dated 19th January 2017. These teachers who are able-bodied men and women employed by the Government are forced to rely on parents and relatives even for pocket money, not to mention for basic necessities and, in some cases,  for their ill children’s medicines. (Read, What it’s like to be an SSA teacher, The Frontier Despatch, 19 January 2017 )

It painfully appears that the government - both Centre and State - has been neglecting our teachers, which is not a healthy sign in our society.

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

There is no doubt that the teaching of Hindi in the schools and colleges is extremely important for a North Eastern state like Mizoram where Hindi is little understood by the people. Hindi can ensure better communications between ethnic communities, ensure social progress, national integration and boost tourism in the state. Hindi can be a tool for empowerment to the population of the state by eradicating feeling of alienation from the mainstream, which is strong among the people of Mizoram, and help the ethnic communities linguistically when they are living outside the state (particularly North India, Hindi belt) for education, jobs and businesses etc and within the state.

Therefore, the Central government must continue the “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs” in Mizoram and extend the employment of these 1305 Hindi teachers without lose of time.

And, the healing process should start immediately by paying their salaries due for 10 months. The government of India, if truly a people's government, must listen to the heartbeats of these 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram.

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...