Chakma delegation led by President, CRDO met Honourable Deputy Chief Minister
of Arunachal Pradesh Shri Chowna Mein ji on 27th January 2020 at the latter’s
residence cum office to discuss about the long pending issues and problems being
faced by Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh and to find an amicable
It has been the vision and endeavor of CRDO leadership that the issue can be brought to closure and a sustainable permanent resolution can be achieved only through mutual discussions with the local leaders with an open mind and heart based on truth, non-violence and peaceful co-existence.
Several misconceptions and myths circulating around regarding the Chakma tribals were discussed threadbare and the Deputy CM after a long 40-minute open discussion has assured the delegation to take up the matter with the highest level for resolution.
The issue of Kathan Area dispute
came up for discussion and it has been clarified that the issue is a chronic
one and it is pending resolution since 1980s and the matter is now with the
Deputy commissioner of Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh.
Citing the example of Tripura and
Assam where the indigenous population has been swamped by outsider population,
the Deputy CM said that such fears are genuine, and the problem of fresh Chakma
influx must be addressed. To this, the
CRDO leadership maintained that there’s no influx, least of all from Bangladesh
because Arunachal Pradesh does not share any contiguous boundary with
Bangladesh. Influx can happen mainly through a porous border – to say that
someone will come 1200 kms from CHT to Arunachal Pradesh is a mis-propaganda
fueled by some vested political interests especially when there are so many
inner line gates and no incentive to come to AP as Chakmas are leading a life
Moreover, as per the white paper
and census conducted by Government – which is the most reliable data source,
the population of Chakmas and Hajongs increased from 14,888 during 1964-69 to
49,784 in 2011 yielding a compounded annualized growth rate of 2.6% which is
LOWER than the state growth rate of 2.87%.
The population of state increased from 3.37 lakhs in 1961 to 13.84 lakhs
in 2011, roughly increasing by 4x.
As per the statement of Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Pema Khandu on the floor of state Assembly on 09th Jan 2020, the total population of Chakma and Hajong people as per a special survey conducted by the Deputy Commissioners of Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts in 2015-16 stands at 65,875 only.
Another fallacy that got
clarified was the comparison with Tibetan refugees who are a separate category
altogether because they enjoy more rights and facilities than even Chakmas /citizens
of India though they are considered as refugees / ‘honored guests’ under the
Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy. Not only do they share a contiguous border with
AP but the Tibetans also have the blessing and support of His Holiness, the
Dalai Lama – who is widely respected as a world spiritual leader whereas the
Chakmas have no one to look up to and are like abandoned children.
The CRDO team expressed sincere
gratitude to late Shri C.K Gohain, Shri Pisila Singpho and all local leaders
and chiefs for understanding the pain and suffering and accepting/accommodating
the Chakma refugees in the then NEFA during 1964-69. Without their support and
the initiative of the Govt, the rehabilitation of the Chakmas and Hajongs would
not have become a reality.
Amidst concern and worry among the Chakmas and Hajongs on the proposed CAB to be tabled in both the houses of parliament and on the other hand, the deteriorating overall living conditions and future looking bleak, a timely delegation of 7-member delegation led by CRDO President called on the Hon’ble Minister of State for Home Shri Nityanand Rai on 25th November 2019.
Minister gave the delegation first audience and a 6-point memorandum was
submitted to him which inter alia, included CRDO’s demand for:
Restorations of full-fledged rights
by revoking the impugned circulars striping of our rights
All fundamental rights in line
with Citizenship Act, 1955 as amended from time to time.
Issue passport, PRC and ST
certificates to Chakmas / Hajong Indian citizens by birth.
Provide MGNREGA & other Central/
State govt. schemes /benefits to all Chakma populace.
Enrolment of all eligible
Chakma & Hajong voters
stressed upon the need to resolve the issue once and for all by eliminating the
root cause of mistaken identity through a corrective policy action.
the delegation also met key officials of NHRC and Election Commission of India on 26th Nov 2019. They were
very receptive to our requests and assured the delegation of help as and
The New Delhi
visit shall lay the foundation for Restoration of Rights based on this
truth-based approach and open new avenues for resolution of the problem. CRDO
takes this opportunity to thank all the delegates, well-wishers and donors / organizations
without whose moral and financial support it would not have been possible.
Letter to Prime Minister
Earlier a letter to Hon’ble Prime Minister of
India, Shri Narenda Modi ji was written
by the President of CRDO on 15 August 2018 requesting the PM for political
recognition of Chakmas and Hajong
migrants as citizens of India, either
through en-masse declaration or
implementation of the Supreme Court order, special revision for enrolment of
about 25,000 eligible voters and inclusion of all Chakma areas under local self-government (PRI) ;
socio-economic rights and access to development schemes under the MGNREGA,
NRLM, PMGAY, etc., government jobs/ employment , PRC, ration card and all other
PDS entitlements, recognition of Chakma and Hajong tribes as ST in AP under
article 342 of the Indian constitution and a one-time special package to compensate for the historical injustices
done during the last 5 decades. A request for maintaining a conducive environment and peaceful
co-existence to all the stakeholders and stop unnecessary harassment of poor
and marginalized Chakma farmers commuting to and from Assam to sell vegetables
at the state border areas/gates in the name of ILP, amongst other requests was
placed before the Hon’ble PM for necessary consideration.
The same has been forwarded to the state
government for necessary action on 3rd Sep 2018 and is pending with
the concerned authorities in the state.
In order to accelerate the process of data correction and sensitize people of the importance of accurate and correct records, a plan has been put in place where 5 volunteers nominated from each village will undergo training and in turn conduct such programs on data discrepancy and correction. This will help and enable many poor and illiterate families to rectify their document errors and apply for enrollment in voter list.
An executive meeting was held at Bijoypur to further spread awareness and implementation of the plan.
Participation in literary and cultural program:
A 4-member team comprising 2 GBs and CRDO representatives has recently visited Papumpare to finalise preparations for participation at Bodo Sahitya Sabha cultural program to be held early next year.
A detailed plan with a cultural troupe has been put in place to represent the Chakma community at this prestigious literary and cultural event. This is in sync with CRDO’s objective of maintaining social harmony, friendly and cordial relationship with all our neighbors for peaceful co-existence.
Citizenship Bill, 2016
The Amendment of the Citizenship Bill, 2016 is pending before the Parliament and a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has been established to take the inputs of public and NGOs. While the outcome of the Bill will have little or no significance to Chakma and Hajong people of AP, it will have far reaching effect in the NE region and may have a bearing on the court cases.
CRDO as a democratic organization believes in the power of many to come together and galvanize resources using “The Power of ONE” to include even the poorest of the poor in the pyramid. Imagine 1 rupee per head per month, a fund amount of at least 50,000 rupees per month will be generated which is good enough to carry out all the initiatives taken. You can remit your contributions at the details mentioned below:
Chakma Rights And Development Organisation Account No.: 0721050016108 United Bank of India Branch: Namsai, Arunachal Pradesh IFSC: UTBI0NSI397
With the birth of CRDO, an important truth about the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh has dawned as if a beautiful landscape has all of a sudden come into view after the mist and fog has lifted from the horizon. The all important truth is that Chakmas and Hajongs are already citizens – 90% of them by birth and 10% by the fact that they were put up in refugee camps initially but finally rehabilated as Indian nationals (hence citizenship was implicitly granted). It is another matter though that the issue has been politicized, de-recognizing some of the citizenship rights already given through disenfranchisement, striping off rights one after on the ground of nationality. Unlikemany other states, the onus has been put on the Chakmas to prove they are not foreigners.
The phrase “grant of citizenship rights” habitually used with respect to the purported status of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh is misleading. It is not so much about grant of citizenship but about restoration of rights as citizens that they once enjoyed and being allowed to exercise these rights just like anybody else with ST status in Arunachal Pradesh.
Having undertaken numerous path-breaking initiatives keeping in mind its core values of TRUTH, TRUST and TRANSPARENCY, objectives and mandate, CRDO achieved success in varying degrees in the year gone by. In the process, CRDO faced daunting challenges, many of which were successfully dealt with while many are still work-in-progress.
General Body Meeting
A General Body meeting of CRDO was organized in the month of December 2018 at the Circuit House, Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh whereby bye-law of CRDO was formally adopted and participation of the Chakma community in the Bodo Sahitya Sabha in January 2019 was finalized. In addition, it was also decided CRDO would help in every way possible to organize Bizu Mela 2019.
The invitation to participate in the Bodo Sahitya Sabha came through the Chakmas of Papumpare. It was a great opportunity for the Chakma Community to further strengthen the bond of friendship with one of the major tribal communities of Assam.
By way of making participation of the Chakma community at the Bodo Sahitya Sabha broad-based and truly representative of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh, CRDO led by its President Mahendra Chakma travelled through the length and breadth of the Chakma inhabited villages starting from Deban to Ratnapur/Gulokpur/Bijoypur to Diyun and Chowngkam including Papumpare and delivered the message of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha invitation, its significance, motivated and inspired the public who in turn expressed support and appreciation with their feet.
Subsequently, a group comprising of one cultural troupe, Gaon Burahs, Mahila Samiti representatives, well-wishers and CRDO delegates successfully and with much fulfillment represented the whole Chakma community of Arunachal Pradesh at the prestigious Bodo Sahitya Sabha showcasing Chakma culture, tradition, music, model house to lakhs of visitors and revelers from across the world.
In the meantime, CRDO President Mahendra Chakma was felicitated and invited to share the dais with prominent dignitaries including Nyshi Elite Society, Government of Assam senior officials, various Bodo leaders, academicians and other Bodo stalwarts among whom was Bodo Territorial Council chief and deliver a speech on behalf of the Chakma community of Arunachal Pradesh.
Participation at Bodo Sahitya Sabha was a historic moment for the Chakma community and also it was a massive success which truly strengthened Bodo-Chakma friendship.
Aadhar Card and Birth Certificates
There are some families so poor that they cannot even afford to pay the fees required for procuring important documents like the Birth certificates and Aadhar cards. CRDO conducted special awareness camps and is very pleased that it has managed to arrange and help these needy either free of cost or very minimal charges and provided free affidavits.
Trafficking of Minor Children
Many minor Chakma children are being sent outside the state to work as domestic help or maid and are subjected to cruelty and exploitation of all kinds. CRDO’s efforts helped such a minor boy and a girl which made their reunion with their family possible. CWWS members were engaged and awareness sessions against sending children to work to remote places done. With growing awareness, reported instances of minor Chakma children being sent away from their homes to work as domestic help or maid have come down. However, some children are still being sent away to work in a clandestine manner.
Counseling and awareness campaign about child marriage/human trafficking were carried out at Dumpani village. CRDO assisted filing of an FIR regarding a missing girl sent to work as maid was filed at Tinsukia PS and the case is still going on to trace the missing Chakma girl.
Illegal Sand mining
Extraction of boulder and sand not only increases soil erosion and vulnerability of river banks but also has the potential to change the river course which may inundate hundreds of villages in different directions. Let’s stop sand mining! Coordinated efforts have been put in place with other stakeholders to stop sand, shingles, boulder mining from Noa-Dehing banks and river bed.
Noa-Dehing Flood Victims
Nao Dehing claimed two lives this year. It swept away a woman and a young girl who hailed from Udaipur village during the peak flood season apart from eroding cultivable land on the sides of its banks and inundating vast expanse of lands for days on end destroying crops and vegetable plantations.
Drug addiction especially opium has been the bane of many a Chakma and other tribal youths. For most addicts, it is a condition of no return as they have no access to any kind of de-addiction facilities or professional counseling. Generally, victims of drug addiction see no hope of getting their lives back.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016
is pending before parliament and a memorandum to the Chairperson of Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) has been submitted from CRDO.
Electoral summary revision
Awareness campaigns have been extensively carried out and assistance provided to correctly fill the Form 6 for new voter enrolment.
Appeal and RTI against rejection of Form 6 in the matter of voter inclusion is pending before the appellate authorities.
When the final electoral draft roll was published, CRDO helped file individual claims and petitions to the District Electoral Officer against rejection of their voter enrolment applications. CRDO continues to follow up on and track the petitions filed earlier.
A memorandum was also submitted to ADC Bordumsa seeking clarity on form fill-up to avoid rejection on technical grounds in future as a preventive measure.
Letter to Prime Minister
A letter to Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narenda Modi ji has been written by the President of CRDO requesting the PM for political recognition of Chakmas and Hajong migrants as citizens of India, either through en-masse declaration or implementation of the Supreme Court order, special revision for enrolment of about 25,000 eligible voters and inclusion of all Chakma areas under local self-government (PRI) ; socio-economic rights and access to development schemes under the MGNREGA, NRLM, PMGAY, etc., government jobs/ employment , PRC, ration card and all other PDS entitlements, recognition of Chakma and Hajong tribes as ST in AP under article 342 of the Indian constitution and a one-time special package to compensate for the historical injustices done during the last 5 decades. A request for maintaining a conducive environment and peaceful co-existence to all the stakeholders and stop unnecessary harassment of poor and marginalized Chakma farmers commuting to and from Assam to sell vegetables at the state border areas/gates in the name of ILP, amongst other requests was placed before the Hon’ble PM for necessary consideration.The same has been forwarded to the state government for necessary action on 3rd Sep 2018 and is pending with the concerned authorities in the state.