In the absence of any kind of gainful employment or any benefits under any socioeconomic schemes from the state and central government, the majority of the Chakmas are very poor and partially starved.
They are mostly daily wage labourers, gatherers of minor forest produces like wild vegetables, landless sharecroppers, and marginal farmers. In other words, they earn for a day or two, and therefore have no provision for more than a couple of days.
In the wake of the complete lockdown in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, they cannot venture out of their homes for work for the next three-four weeks since today. No work for them means no food.
Therefore, it is very difficult to feed themselves for more than a couple of days from now. It is feared that, unable to bear the pain of hunger, the poor and the downtrodden, who constitute a large section of the Chakmas, would venture out for work and endanger their own lives as well as those of others during this health emergency. But they have no option unless the government extends emergency support on a priority basis.
As you are all aware, in order to prevent a large number of people from venturing out to work, several state governments have started providing emergency relief or subsistence allowance to all poor families, daily wage labourers, construction workers, rickshaw pullers etc, within their respective jurisdictions. Help should be extended to the Chakmas too. Our appeals to the Centre and the state have gone unheard. Please extend help to the poor Chakma families who are to starving in Chakma villages in Chongkham circle of Namsai district.
Bipin Roshan Chakma,