CDFI cautions Shah about impact of repression of Chakmas

NEW DELHI, 19 Nov: On the eve of union Home Minister Amit Shah’s visit to Tripura on 21 November to lay the foundation stone of the Forensic Science University, the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) in a memorandum on Friday cautioned against “the growing alienation of the Chakmas from the Bharatiya Janata Party as a result of nationwide repression on them in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Tripura and Mizoram, and the potential direct impact on the electoral outcomes in seven Chakma populated assembly constituencies of Tripura in the forthcoming assembly elections.”

The CDFI highlighted the proposed relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal – “60 years after their permanent settlement” – announced by Chief Minister Pema Khandu in his Independence Day address on 15 August, 2021, besides “illegal eviction of over 110 Chakma families from Thedongnala in Hojai district of Assam during eviction drive since 8 November, 2021, despite the Chakmas inhabiting in the area for over last 40 years; directions issued on 2 August, 2021, by the Tripura government to conduct investigation into alleged influx of only Chakmas as alleged foreigners despite more influx from the other communities; and snatching of the scheduled tribe status from the Chakmas as non-Mizo people under the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2021 by allocating only 1 percent of the seats

for the Chakmas in higher technical education” as instances of nationwide repression of 2,25,000 Chakmas in India as per the 2011 census.

“Out of these four states where the Chakmas are facing repression, three states, ie, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Tripura, are ruled by the BJP, while Mizoram is ruled by the Mizo National Front, which is a member of the North East Democratic Alliance. Therefore, there are legitimate questions in the minds of the Chakmas as to whether their rights are being protected by the BJP-led governments,” said CDFI founder Suhas Chakma in a press release.

“If the repression on the Chakmas continues unabated and corrective remedial measures are not taken, growing alienation of the Chakmas has the potential to impact the electoral outcomes in the forthcoming Tripura state assembly elections against the BJP. Out of the 20 reserved assembly seats for the scheduled tribes in Tripura, the Chakmas are dominant and deciding factors in seven assembly constituencies of Chawamanu, Karbook, Karmachara, Kanchanpur, Manu, Pecharthal and Raima Valley. At present, two assembly constituencies of Tripura, ie, Chawamanu and Pecharthal, are held by two MLAs belonging to the Chakma community and the BJP,” he said.

The CDFI also urged Shah to “direct Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu to issue an official statement rejecting the proposed illegal and unconstitutional relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs; Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sharma to immediately provide rehabilitation and resettlement to all the Chakma families as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013; Tripura CM Biplab Deb to either stop investigation into the Chakmas only as alleged foreigners or inquire into all foreigners irrespective of caste, ethnic origin or religion; and the governor of Mizoram to examine the constitutionality of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2021, especially in light of the judgment in PIL No 49 of 2016 (Mizoram Chakma Students’ Union vs the State of Mizoram) and issue necessary directions to the government of Mizoram to withdraw the said unconstitutional rules.”