Life of Hardship and Hope: Story of Pradip Kumar Chakma

Born in the year 1969 at village Dumpani, one of the initially allotted 6 blocks for rehabilitation to Chakma migrants from the then East Pakistan by the Govt. of India between 1964-1969, Mr Padip Kumar Chakma’s life story is one of the many similar Chakma folks in present Arunachal Pradesh.

Initially possessing a cultivation land of 7 acres by his four-member family and his other brothers, they supported themselves by cultivating paddy crops on that land besides vegetables like mustard leaves, brinjal, cabbages, cauliflower, peppers, turnip, tomatoes etc and fruits like cucumber, watermelon and garden of mango, jackfruit, raspberries, papaya, guava trees. But the honour of feeding his family was soon devastated by the Noa-Dihing river flood in the year 1992. He lost his home as the fury of the Noa-Dihing washed away his home and he had to move to a plot of land given in generosity by a relative. He continued cultivating what was little left of his original land for rice, somehow managing to feed his family.

Again in the year 2000, his little cultivated land was reduced to a bed of sand by the Noa-Dihing river leaving him uprooted yet again driving him to abject poverty and hunger. The government authorities in Diyun responded somewhat favourably to his request by settling him and 13 other flood affected families at Diyun Tiniali, adjacent to Jyotsnapur village. Pradip’s family and the 13 other families were forced to fend for themselves with no ration provided by the administration. The allotted land – an uncleared forest area – was not suitable for paddy cultivation and Pradip like the others had no other means to sustain his family. They survived on the meagre assistance that their relatives could afford. For many nights Pradip, his wife and their children had to go to bed hungry, staring into the darkness, wondering what next was in store for him and his family! 

Soon Pradip moved to Ongseng Nongthow, managing to fetch a plot of land for rice cultivation under tenant-farming system from a Khampti landlord. He decided to send his children to a nearby Govt. Primary School, knowing the importance of education in the hope of a better future for them. Burnt by the heat of the sun his skin looked tainted like burnt wheat, his apparent nose tunneling outward, eyes trying to hide behind the sockets, strong jaw and a strong back, Pradip resolved not to go hungry again. He ploughed his land early morning before the sun rose with a rented pair of oxen in the month of June praying the rain god for timely rain. He was assisted by his hardworking wife and the children chipped in too. Under the smiling Sun and the occasional merrily blowing breeze, together they sowed their paddy crops when there was enough water in the fields. He completed sowing within a few weeks with the help of the traditional system of “MALEYEH”. This would help him secure food for his family for six-seven months, provided he keeps clearing the weeds that will inevitably grow on his paddy field and amidst prayer that his crops aren’t affected by disease – for he has to pay half his total crops as rental to the landlord and the owner of the oxen. In November his paddy fields ripened and in the meantime he dedicated his time in growing vegetables which he would sell in the nearest weekly market to earn some cash to buy household utensils, clothes, blankets, books for the children, soaps, detergents and etc. 

In 2010, with his life’s savings Pradip finally purchased a piece of land measuring three and a half bigha at Modokko Nala, a full fledged Chakma village, but unrecognised by the government. All along he had to endure the hardship of various anti-Chakma campaigns and the worry of being expelled unjustly by his landlord right at the time of harvesting and depriving him of their rightful share of crops, as is many times known to happen.

Pradip Kumar Chakma in front of his fish-farm.

Today, he has two able sons for help in trying to better the lives of his family. Assisted by his sons, Pradip managed to plant a betel nut garden which will earn him some cash in the next four five years. He single handedly dug a pond with a hoe where he managed to build a fish farm. He also engages himself in Jhum cultivation in the nearby hills to meet his requirements for staple food. Blessed with grandsons through his eldest son and his daughter, Pradip is all smiles, having secured some respite from the hunger that was his constant companion. His life and many others like him provide an inspiring story of grit, determination, and struggle against all odds just to survive.


Next steps – Oct 2018

Plan for the Upcoming Quarter

Accelerated Data Correction Drive

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. 

Financial Support

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



Key Updates – Oct 2018

Keeping Track of Progress

CRDO Successes and Challenges:

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. Unlike many 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.

Sahitya Sabha

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.  

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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. 

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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

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.


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