ITANAGAR, Apr 27: The Rights and Risks Analysis Group on Monday claimed that 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs were starving because of their being excluded from the “economic package for vulnerable sections in these difficult times of Covid-19 pandemic” announced by the Arunachal government on 12 April, and sale of rice @ Rs 29 per kg to them by the state government during the ongoing lockdown.
The group’s director, Suhas Chakma, said that the Chakmas and Hajongs were being deprived because they do not have ration cards to purchase rice.
“The order issued on 14 April targets the Chakmas and Hajongs who live under Diyun circle (in Changlang district) of Arunachal Pradesh. They do not have ration cards as the state government had illegally and arbitrarily seized their ration cards vide order on 25 October, 1991, and therefore, they have to buy under open market sale scheme,” he claimed.
However, the local administration has rubbished the allegation.
Responding to a query from this daily, based on the allegation made by Suhas Chakma, the administration said 50 quintals of rice have been distributed free of cost to the most needy Chakmas and Hajongs in Diyun area.
“Another 50 quintals will be distributed this week, free of cost, to the most needy in Diyun,” the administration’s clarification read.
It said there is no truth in the allegation of starvation as the administration is distributing free rice on a daily basis.
The Chakma students’ union and community leaders have been asked to provide lists of needy families regularly, it said.
The administration added that the Chakmas and Hajongs are largely agricultural communities, “and since agriculture/tea estates are opened now, most would be working and earning.”
“OMSS rice allotted to Bordumsa wholesaler price was fixed at Rs 26, and wholesalers and local Chakma leaders were instructed to distribute maximum rice in bulk quantity at wholesale rates,” the administration said.
It said that after receiving grievances over the retail price of Rs 29, it will only allow the wholesale rate, ie, Rs 26 per kg of OMSS rice, in Diyun from now on.
The administration further said that out of the 200 quintals OMSS rice that were allotted to Diyun, “a major quantity was given at wholesale rates.”
“Chakma leaders were issued notice and asked to distribute at the wholesale rate,” it said.