Tuesday, 21 June 2011
The recent survey conducted by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh to ascertain the total population of Chakma and Hajong communities has put to rest the debate on the alleged rise in their population.
According to the Special Survey Report of Chakma and Hajong communities in the state, their total population is 46,691 persons in Changlang district as in February 2011 (Arunachal Times, March 29, 2011). While the data of 2001 census show their total population as 35,390 persons in the district. Thus, recording a decadal growth of 31.93 percent. The decadal growth of Chakmas and Hajongs was 31.48 per cent during the 1991-2001 census period. This indicates that the growth is less than 1 per cent (0.45 percent).
The above figure is only for the Changlang district, where the majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs are settled. The Chakmas are settled in two other districts namely Papumpare and Lohit. According to the 2001 census, the total population of the Chakmas and Hajongs was 42,333 persons.
While the overall total population of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state is reported to be around 53,800 persons presently. This means that the decadal growth rate of the Chakmas and Hajongs has come down to about 27 percent from 31.48 per cent during the 1991-2001 census period.
|2011 Provisional Census Data|
This is a positive sign considering that some districts in the state where there is no Chakma-Hajong population recorded increase in growth rate. According to the provisional census 2011 data, the decadal growth for the Upper Subansiri district increased to 50.34 percent (2001-2011) from a low of 10.50 percent in 1991-2001. While the decadal growth of East Kameng district increased to 37.14 percent from 13.46 percent and Lower Subansiri increased to 48.65 percent from 29.15 percent. Surprisingly, the newly created district of Kurung Kumey which is declared by the state government as one of the backward districts recorded more than 100 percent increase with 111.01 percent in 2001-2011 from meager 6.24 percent in the 1991-2001 census.
As per the latest provisional census data, in Changlang district where majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs inhabit, the decadal growth has come down to 17.96 percent from the previous census period figure of 31.29 percent.
The popular debate and fear over the rapid increase in population of the Chakmas and Hajongs is far from the truth and hypothetical. The growth is normal and natural.
Backwardness, including lack of education, among the people is the main reason for increase in population. The case of Kurung Kumey district is an example. Access to education remains indispensable. School drop-outs marry early and contribute to the population. Although, the growth rate of the Chakma and Hajong communities is normal, opening of schools, especially higher schools, in their inhabited areas will further make them aware about the harmful effects of rising population. Presently, the drop-out rate of Chakmas is high due to lack of higher schools.
The government has to act to alleviate the poor socio-economic condition of the people, giving special focus in backward areas.
Monday, 20 June 2011
As the much awaited opening ceremony of 2011 Cricket World Cup kicked off in Bangladesh on February 17, 2011 and the evening Dhaka sky was lit up with spectacular fireworks, the sky in the Chittagong Hills Tracts (CHT) in the southeast of the country also lit up, not in celebration but after houses of indigenous Chakma people were burnt down by illegal Bengali settlers.
On February 17, 2011 at about 5:30 pm, at least 23 houses, including one school, of the indigenous people (also known as Jummas) were burnt to ashes by a group of about 200-250 Bengali settlers with the support of the Border Guard of Bangladesh (BGB) at Gulshakhali Union under Longadu upazila in Rangamati district. The houses were set on fire one after another.
The attackers were identified and the Jumma leaders informed the local administration, but no action was taken to stop the Bengali settlers. On the contrary, the Jummas were further subjected to beating and houses raided by the army after the arson attacks by the settlers. According to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Commission, there were allegations that members of the army were raiding homes of the Jummas and beating up villagers in Kudukchari of Rangamati a day after the incident following protests by the Jummas against the attacks in Langadu.
The Langadu arson attack was followed up by another communal attack in April 2011. Bengali settlers burnt down at least 200 houses including two Buddhist temples in Ramgarh upazila under Khagrachari district with the direct support of security forces. At least 20 Jummas including three women were injured and at least half a dozen of Jummas were reported to be missing following the attack. Many of the Jummas fled into the jungle to save themselves. The settlers attacked the Jummas to grab their land. With no help from the security forces, the Jummas clashed with the settlers, which resulted in injuries to both sides.
Attacks against the Jummas and land grabbing by illegal plain settlers with the support of the security forces have been a regular feature in CHT. Before signing of the CHT Accord in 1997, which ended the 25-year-old low intensity guerrilla war between the indigenous groups and the government, an estimated 400,000 Bengali settlers were implanted into the CHT between 1979 and 1984 as a part of a counter-insurgency measure.
This has resulted in land grabbing and disputes over land remained the primary reason for attacks against the Jummas in the CHT region. Hundreds of Jummas have lost their lives, hundreds have been injured, hundreds displaced, women and girls raped and land grabbed by the illegal plain settlers. Tales of human rights violations both by the Bengali settlers and security forces are unending.
There is no protection for the indigenous Jummas. The government of Bangladesh even failed to implement the 1997 CHT Peace Accord. As a result of the non-implementation of CHT Accord, the Bengali settlers with the support of the local administration and security forces have been continuing to attack the Jummas to occupy their land in the CHT. The government even denies existence of indigenous population in the country.
A recent UN study conducted by UN Special Rapporteur Lars-Anders Baer stated that “gross human rights violations as a result of inadequate implementation of a decade-old peace accord have given rise to political instability and ethnic conflicts in the remote Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) in southeastern Bangladesh……The likelihood of such outcomes is evident from the occurrence of conflicts between settlers and indigenous peoples and violence in the post-accord period.”
The successive governments tried to solve the problem by military means, which resulted in making the CHT became heavily militarized with estimated more than 500 army camps. The UN Special Rapporteur Lars-Anders Baer stated that “This is an excessive amount, by any standard, especially in a country that is not participating in a war, is at peace with its neighbors and has no prevailing insurgency situation.”
Clearly, Bangladesh's promotion of the cultural dances of indigenous tribes like Chakma, Rakhine, Marma, Shautal and Garo at the 2011 Cricket World Cup Opening Ceremony was at best an eye wash to hide its anti-indigenous people policies.
Thursday, 16 June 2011
Since its inception in 1993, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India, an autonomous statutory body, has recommended financial relief to victims of human rights violation in a large number of cases.
In continuance to this, the NHRC in April 2011 recommended monetary relief to the victims of human rights violations or their next of kin. According to its May 2011 issue of Monthly Newsletter, the Commission recommended monetary relief of Rs. 87,54,000/- in 51 cases. The financial compensations were awarded after it found the public authorities, including the police, guilty of negligence in protecting human rights. However, the process of recommending compensation to victims is cumbersome and takes years. This is clear from these cases, some of which are pending since 2002-2003.
Worst, in some cases the NHRC recommendations of monetary compensation were not complied with by the public authorities/state governments. There are instances where NHRC orders were not respected and the victims or relatives of human rights violations denied compensation.
For example, the NHRC recommended Rs. 500,000 as monetary relief to the next of kin of Masud Rana Sarkar, who died in an assault by the BSF personnel in Dakshin Dinjapur district of West Bengal, and Rs. 50,000 each to his three injured family members in the assault (NHRC Case No. 180/25/18/07-08-PF on a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights in March 2007).
The BSF requested the NHRC to close the case on the basis of General Security Force Court (GSFC) order which had exonerated all the five accused BSF personnel. However, the NHRC found a magisterial inquiry report in the case convincing which established that the BSF personnel caused grievous injuries to the members of the family and recommended that the Government of India to pay monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased and to those injured in the assault by the BSF personnel. The NHRC also called for proof of payment and compliance report within six weeks.
However, the family is yet to receive the financial relief even after more than one year of the NHRC order. The poor family members of Masud Rana are running from pillar to post to get the financial relief. The Government of India is yet to submit proof of payment and compliance report to the NHRC.
The government failed to provide justice to the family of Masud Rana. Justice delayed is justice denied. And the case of Masud Rana is not a rarity.