CHAKMA
-An Endangered Traditional Buddhist Tribe-


The oppressed minority being persecuted, igonored and forgotten





Introduction of the Chakmas       


   The Chakmas are simple, innocent and peace-loving community, Buddhists by religion having their own way of life, language, values and culture.  In the undivided India they have inhabited mainly in two locations one, the Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) of erstwhile Bengal (now Bangladesh) and the other Tripura and Mizoram which were then in Assam of India.  Out of which CHT comprised the majority of the Chakmas.  But later during Partition of India in 1947, CHT fell in East Pakistan whereas Tripura and Mizoram remained with India.  As a result, only minority of Chakmas fell with India.  As CHT comprised 98% Buddhists the Chakmas wanted to merge with India as they should be because India was divided on religious basis.  They even hoisted Indian National Flag, gave delegation to Delhi however, CHT was given to Pakistan against their wills.  To add to the injustice, they were not given an opportunity of referendum to prefer the country. They are the unfortunate victims of partition of India in 1947 and became the refugees in their own land.


Background of the Problem

In 1964, some 30,000 Chakmas and Hajongs migrated to India due to persistent religious persecutions and in the wake of displacement caused by the Kaptai Hydro-Electric Project that submerged their arable land.  They migrated with valid migration certificates and were settled in Arunachal Pradesh, the then Assam under a "Definite Plan of Rehabilitation ".  At that time India received them very humanly and did everything to make up their shattered life such as land, employment etc.  The Government of India also assured them that they would be granted Indian Citizenship at their initial migration.  From 1964 to 1979, they stayed as Indians only but from 1980 the Government of Arunachal Pradesh started repression and oppression, deprived them of their originally granted privileges such as land ownership, employment, trade and commerce, education and health-care facilities.  There have been also atrocities committed to them by the local populace and State police.  The State Government vide its letter no POL-21/80 dated 29th September 1980 banned Public Employment for the Chakmas and Hajongs in the State. 



Employment

The Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh are denied government service. In a letter addressed to all the Deputy Commissioners and State authorities, the government of Arunachal Pradesh gave an open direction that Chakmas and Hajongs be not recruited to any government service. Those who were there already or got before Arunachal Pradesh become a state, were arbitrarily terminated in or after 1994.  As a result of which number of educated youths are leading their life by dry land farming wasting their talents and energies.


Communication

The Chakma inhabited areas are not well connected by roads as a result of which the villagers do get due prices for their agricultural products. The Government has been spending Crores of rupees on development but the Chakma areas remain untouched and isolated.     


Trade and Commerce:

In Arunachal Pradesh, permit or license for trade and commerce is out of question for the Chakmas.  They are denied licenses to run even small-scale industries/pity businesses.  Trading license granted to the Chakmas prior to 1975 (during Union Territory status) are being cancelled and thereby petty shopkeepers are being ruined.  They even do not get suitable prices for their hard earned agricultural products.  They are also denied the grant of any contract works or any other vocations involving economic pursuits.


Agricultural Land

Of the total population of the Chakmas, only one half are seeking out their subsistence living from the land allotted to them by the Ministryof Rehabilitation. The remaining population has been settled in areas unfit for cultivation and habitation. Again, a considerable number of families who are settled on the bank of Noa-Dihing river of Changlang district and Berang river of Lohit district has been badly affected by the floods and soil erosion from time to time and ultimately their lands have been washed away by these turbulent rivers. No embankment, no land, no resettlement nor any sort of relief were provided to these flood victims.The Government of Arunachal Pradesh having denied and blocked all other types of economic vocation for mere survival, one can imagine the deprivation that the Chakmas are subjected to in Arunachal Pradesh today.

Allotment of lands has also not been made to the families who become landless as a result of local raids, state organized arsons and atrocities meted out to these people.

In 1991, the Chakmas and Hajongs who numbered 66,000 started demanding Citizenship Rights. Starting from 1992, the State Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh became more hostile and started inciting sectarian violence against the Chakmas and Hajongs. Backed by the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (hereinafter called AAPSU) served a "Quit Aruanchal Pradesh" notice to the Chakmas to leave the State by 30th September 1994.  A large number of Chakmas fled from Arunachal Pradesh and took refuge in the neighboring State of Assam.
The Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (hereinafter called CCRCAP) apprised the National Human Rights Commission of India (hereinafter called NHRC) about the deadline set by the AAPSU and threat to lives and properties of the Chakmas and Hajongs.  On 7th December 1994, the NHRC directed the State Government of Aruanchal Pradesh and Central Government to apprise of the steps taken to protect the Chakmas and Hajongs.  This was ignored till September 1995.  In the meantime, harassment, torture, intimidation, arrest and detention, economic blockade and embargoes continued unabated.


Health:       

The health facilities available to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh are practically zero.  There are no hospitals and dispensaries in the Chakma areas.  Some instances there is not even Primary Health Centers in these villages for 900 families at Chakma village, Chowngkham, Lohit District; 600 families at Deban and M' Pen Area of Changlang District, 2000 families of Vijoypur and Dharmapur of Changlang District.

There is only one Primary Health Center at Diyun for 50,000 Chakmas and Hajongs in Changlang District.  That too is without basic facilities and sufficient staff.  As a result, people suffer and die of simple and curable diseases.  Dysentery, diarrhea, malaria, viral fever, elephanthesis, typhoid are the common diseases.  In 1994, an epidemic killed more than 300 people including children.   Every year large number of people dies due to lack of medical facilities.  Mortality rate among the Chakmas is very high. Government Health visitors or departmental representatives rarely visit the Chakma inhabited areas. Further, the nutritional status of the Chakma children is very pitiable.  Pregnant and lactating mothers too do not get sufficient nutrition, which is manifested on their health thus, affssecting their children too. 
In fact, all the Chakma villages live in an environment characterized by malnutrition, under nourishment, infection, poor shelter, dearth of safe drinking water and sanitation.

          
Education

The condition of the Chakmas and Hajongs in respect of education had been worse since 1980.Educational facilities were being denied to the Chakmas. The Chakma boys and girls did not have facilities for Hostel accommodation.  While seeking admission in the schools they were often harassed and assaulted.  No care and attention were being paid either by the school authorities or by the administration to see the needs and the Grievances   of the Chakmas students.   They were also not allowed to take part in any kind of literary activities, ga.0mes and sports.

Further schools in the Chakma inhabited areas were not provided sufficient numbers of teachers. Only one or two teachers were provided in each school.  Teacher student ratio was 1:300.  Drop out rate is 90 to 95% with children ending up unskilled labours, maidservants, thieves etc. breaking the peace and harmony of the society.  One may note that hardly 7% children reach 11 grades.  Their foundation is also very weak.  In 38 years the Chakmas have so far only
Education          Male          Female          Total
Post Graduates          12          Nil          12
Graduates          80          9          89
Intermediate          51          17          68
Matriculate          25          21          46

Comparision schools between Chakma inhabited areas and other locals of Arunachal Pradesh from 1980-1994, some examples
1.          Hardly 400 families Deori village in Changlang District has a well-equipped High School whereas 50,000 Chakmas and Hajongs do not deserve the same. 
2.           Hardly 150 families of Singpho Community has well-equipped Higher Secondary School at Innao, Changlang District whereas 800 Chakma families of Udaipur and Modoi villages do not have a single Primary School.
3.          Further, a Secondary School for hardly 150 families Singphos at Bat Camp in Changlang District whereas there is not a Primary school for 400 families at Golakpur and Milanpur Chakma Area.

The condition become worst in 1994, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh burnt; closed down Schools of the Chakma inhabited areas in 1994 vide Order No. CS/HME/94 dated 21/11/94. Teachers were withdrawn and transferred to other schools of the State.  Chakma Children were denied admission in others schools of Arunachal Pradesh outside Chakma Area. 
At Chakma Basti of Chowngkham, Lohit District, the only primary School serving 900 families was abrubtly closed down, and its teachers were transferred to other schools of the State.  Also the Chakma Students studying at Chowngkham Government schools and Namsai Government Higher Secondary School were arbitrarily expelled from these institutions.

In the District of Changlang , more violent means were employed in order to deprive the Chakmas and Hajongs of their right to education.  The Diyun Secondary School, a school constructed by the Chakmas themselves on a self-help basis, was
burnt to ashes in Nov. 1994.

The Bijoypur Middle School too was constructed by the Chakmas through contributions and labour by the local community, was closed and locked up by the State authorities.
A glance on Condition of the schools in the Chakma areas since 1994: (SEE ANNEXURE I)

On 12 and 28 October 1995, the CCRCAP approached the NHRC again for protection of lives and liberties of the Chakmas and Hajongs in view of the deadline and support extended to the AAPSU by the State Government. On October 29, 1995 the NHRC recorded a Prima facie conclusion that the officers of Arunachal Pradesh were acting in coordination with the AAPSU with a view to expel the Chakmas from the State of Arunachal Pradesh.  The NHRC, then headed by Justice Ranganath Mishra approached the Supreme Court to seek appropriate relief. 

On 9 Jan. 1996, the Supreme Court gave its judgment in the case of NHRC Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh, issuing the following orders:
1.          The first respondent, the State of Arunachal Pradesh, shall ensure that the life and personal liberty of each and every Chakma residing within the State shall be protected and any attempt to forcibly evict or drive them out of the State by organized groups, such as the AAPSU, shall be repelled, if necessary by requisitioning the service of Para-military or police force, and if additional forces are considered necessary to carry out this direction, the first respondent will request the second respondent, the Union of India, to provide such additional force, and the second respondent shall provide such additional force as is necessary to protect the lives and liberties of the Chakmas;
2.          except in accordance with law, the Chakmas shall not be evicted from their homes and shall not be denied domestic life and comfort therein;
3.          the quit notices and ultimatums issued by he AAPSU and any other group which tantamount to threats  to the life and liberty of each and every Chakma should be dealt with by  the first respondent in accordance with law;
4.          The application made for registration as citizen of India by
Chakma or Chakmas u/s 5 of Act, shall be entered in the register maintained for the purpose and shall be forwarded by the Collector or the Deputy Commissioner who receives them under the relevant rule, with or without enquiry, as the case may be, to the Central Government for its consideration in accordance with law; even returned applications shall be called back or fresh ones shall be obtained from the concerned persons and shall be processed and forwarded to the Central Government for consideration.
5.          While the application of any individual Chakma is pending consideration, the first respondent shall not evict or remove the concern from his occupation on the ground that he is not a citizen of India until the competent authority has taken a decision in that behalf.

Non-Implementation of the above Judgement:
In spite of an unambiguous directions of the Supreme Court to the District Collectors to forward the Citizenship applications of the Chakams and Hajongs, none of them could apply for their Citizenship due to all pervading fear created by the State Govt. of Aruanchal Pradesh and AAPSU.
On 4th May 1998, 27 Chakmas went to submit the Citizenship applications to the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang District. However, the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang, Mr. Y.D. Tangchi refused to accept the applications.  Therefore, the Chakmas and Hajongs had to submit the applications directly to the Union Home Ministry.
     As a result, some of the Chakmas and Hajongs submitted applications directly to the Central           Government on 18th
February 1997 and 19th June 1997 through CCRCAP.  4000 Citizenship applications have been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs.  And the Union Home Ministry forwarded these Citizenship applications to the District Collectors for necessary verification. 

It has been learnt that the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh about 200 Citizenship applications after necessary verifications.  Until today, not a single application has been processed by the Central Government.


Recommendation of the Rajya Sabha Committee:

The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petition in its 105th Report of 14th August 1997 also recommended the speedy grant of Citizenship to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.  The Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitons recommended the followings:
41. "The Committee feels that the spirit of the Indira-Mujib Accord as well as the Judgement of he Supreme Court in the matter may be made applicable to all the affected States for the solution of the Problem.  As per the Accord, all those Chakmas who came to India prior to 25.3.1971 are to be granted Indian Citizenship.
42. The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh who came there prior to 25.3.1971 be granted Indian Citizenship.  The Committee also recommends that all the old applications of Chakmas for Citizenship which have either been rejected or withheld by Deputy Commissioners or the State Deputy Commissioners or the State Government may consider to incorporate necessary provision in the Rules (or the Act if so required) whereby it could directly receive, consider and decide the application for Citizenship in the case of Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh.  The Committee also recommends that Chakmas be also considered for granting them the Status of Scheduled Tribe at the time of granting Citizenship.


Formation of Sub-Committee:      

A Sub-Committee headed by Home Minister was formed in 1995 to resolve the Chakma issue.  The Home Ministry Team consisting of its officials visited Chakma area in
Arunachal Pradesh in 1997.  It is learnt that the team has submitted its report with specific direction how to solve the issue but it too has not been yet published.


Delhi High Court on enrolment of Chakma and Hajong Citizens in the Electoral Rolls:       

In addition to the Chakmas and Hajongs who migrated in 1964,
there are about 35,000 Chakmas and Hajongs who were born here after the migration of their parents in 1964.  They are Indian Citizens by birth under Section 3(i) (a) of Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 which states that "except as provided in Sub-section (2), every person born in India, - (a) on or after 26th day of January, 1950 but before the commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1986 is a citizen by birth.
The Central Government and the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh too recognized them as Citizens of India as per the Provisions of Citizenship Act 1955, every person born in India on or after 26 January 1950 and before 1 July 1987 as Citizens of India by birth and therefore eligible for electoral rolls.
However when the Chakmas and Hajongs who are Citizens by birth went to the Assistant Electoral Registration Officer of Diyun under Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh, the Officer refused to accept their Form  6 Application for inclusion of name ion electoral rolls.

The Ministry of Home Affairs was apprised of the fact.  The Ministry of Home Affairs informed that the Election Commission has been requested to include all the Indian Citizens into the Electoral Rolls.  But the Election Commission took no action.  Hence, Peoples Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and CCRCAP filed a writ Petition (CPR No 886 of 2000) before the Delhi High Court.  In its Judgement on 28 September 2000, the Delhi High Court ordered that all the eligible voters be registered in the Electoral Rolls.  However, this order, too, has been floated on various pretexts.  Till date, not a single Chakma Hajong who is citizen by birth has been included in the Electoral Rolls.  .    


Denial of Right to Nationality:

The failure to grant Indian Citizenship to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh tantamount to the denial of Citizenships even after 38 years of their settlement is a violation of Article 15 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that provides " everyone has the right to a nationality".  India has also acceded to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which create an obligation to abide by the Declaration in this area.  ICCPR declares that every child has the right to acquire a nationality" Further CRC, article 7 (1) reads: " The child shall be registered immediately after birth and shall have the right from birth to a name, the right to acquire a nationality, and as far as possible, the right to know and be cared for by his or her parents".  It is clear that India has not fulfilled these obligations in the cases of Chakma and Hajong children born in Arunachal Pradesh since 1964.  They still cannot call this country as their own.  They are deprived of
even the basic human rights.  They too are considered as refugees like their parents irrespective of the fact that they are citizens of India by birth. 



For further details contact:

Mr. Susanta Chakma
(Executive Trustee)
                                                       
SNEHA
Ashok Buddha Vihar, Old Power House Road,
Rajghat , New Delhi -110002.  INDIA

Phone  91-011-3253462

Email: snehatrust@hotmail.com