Thursday, 20 October 2011

Meghalaya fails to rehabilitate rescued child labourers of coal mines

By Tejang Chakma

IT has been more than one year, the state government of Meghalaya claimed to have rescued about 232 children working in the coal mines in the state. But, it has miserably failed to rehabilitate the rescued child labourers so far. Officially, only 32 rescued child labourers were provided rehabilitation. The fate of about 200 rescued children is unknown. There is no information about their whereabouts.

The issue of the child labour made “headlines” after an NGO reported that 70,000 children were working in the coal mines of the state. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took suo-motu cognizance of a press report and directed the Chief Secretary, Meghalaya to submit a report (NHRC Case No: 22/15/3/2010-CL).

Following pressure, the state government conducted a survey and found more than 200 children, including children from Nepal and Bangladesh, working in the coal mines. A report was submitted to the NHRC.

Subsequently, the NHRC directed the state government to work on a rehabilitation package to help the rescued children working in hazardous situations.

Yet, the state government could rehabilitate only 32 rescued children as of date.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) is also looking into the matter. While the Centre deputed a team to visit the coal mining areas in Jaintia Hills to ascertain the prevalence of children working in hazardous zones.

Despite many actors being involved with the issue, the rehabilitation of about 200 rescued children is still a distant dream. It would not be wrong to assume that the matter has been got delayed due to the involvement of multiple actors.

According to the latest status checked from the NHRC website, it appears that the NHRC has asked the NCPCR to inform the status of the case and date of cognizance. However, the NCPCR failed to respond following which NHRC issued a remainder. The silence of the NCPCR to the NHRC is not known. But, the silence by the NCPCR has clearly delayed the NHRC from proceeding with its case. It appears that the NHRC will not proceed with the case if the NCPCR took cognizance before it.

It is extremely important that the NHRC proceed with its own case irrespective of whether or not the NCPCR took cognizance before NHRC as the matter calls for urgent action to provide justice to these unfortunate children.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Gandhis in Chakma traditional attires

Late Prime Minister of India, Indira Gandhi seen in Chakma traditional dress "Phinon- Haadi" during her visit to Chakma areas in Mizoram. Photo courtesy: Facebook user-Sushen Chakma (

 Sonia Gandhi followed the footsteps of her mother-in-law during her visit to Kamalanagar, Mizoram. Photo courtesy: Facebook group: NUO CHANGMA VAAJ/HODA JORONI!!!

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

NHRC guidelines to report custodial death within 24 hours openly flouted

By Tejang Chakma

On 14 December 1993, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) of India issued instructions on "Custodial Deaths/Rapes.” In its letter (No. 66/SG/NHRC/93), the NHRC directed the Chief Secretaries of all the States and Union Territories to instruct the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of every district to report custodial deaths and rapes to the NHRC within 24 hours. The directions say as under:

"In view of the rising number of incidents and reported attempts to suppress or present a different picture of these incidents with the lapse of time, the Commission has taken a view that a direction should be issued forthwith to the District Magistrates and Superintendents of Police of every district that they should report to the Secretary General of the Commission about such incidents within 24 hours of occurrence or of these officers having come to know about such incidents. Failure to report promptly would give rise to presumption that there was an attempt to suppress the incident".

Yet, the NHRC's guidelines on reporting custodial deaths and rapes within 24 hours continue to be flouted. This is evident from the figures provided by the NHRC on 12 October 2011 on the occasion of its 19th Foundation Day. The NHRC has received a total of 24,907 complaints of custodial deaths since inception. These included 20,604 cases of deaths in judicial custody and 4,303 cases of deaths in police custody. Out of 20,604 complaints of deaths in judicial custody, 19,770 cases were registered on the basis of intimation received from the prison authorities. This means that 834 cases of deaths in judicial custody were not reported to the NHRC in violations of its guidelines.

The situation is worst when it comes to deaths in police custody. Only 2,692 out of 4,303 cases were registered based on intimations received from the concerned police authorities in different states. While as many as 1,611 or cases of deaths in police custody were registered based on intimation received from others such as NGOs, victims’ families, sou moto by NHRC, etc. In other words, it shows that the NHRC was not informed by the police about these custodial deaths.

The NHRC has expressed its anguish against the failure to report cases of custodial deaths. But the NHRC's guidelines on reporting custodial deaths within 24 hours continue to be flouted. The NHRC has to take strong and effective measures to arrest this open violations of its guidelines.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

EAC Diyun called back 22 disqualified Chakma students to school

By Tejang Chakma

ABOUT a month after their names were deleted from the school admission register, smiles of 22 Chakma students of Government Secondary School Diyun under Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh are back after they were called back to school.

In September 2011, the Extra-Assistant Commissioner (EAC), Diyun circle issued an order allowing the 22 Chakma students to attend their classes forthwith. The order came forth after a two-member team of Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union (APCSU) headed by its President called on the EAC. The students’ body took up the issue since it came to light to save the future of these students.

The EAC revoked its earlier order No.DYN/DEV/-3/2009-10/505-09 dated 24 August 2011 asking the school authority to terminate the admission of the Chakma students studying in IXth standard in the school. The Headmaster In-Charge in his letter dated 27 August 2011 informed the EAC of deletion of the names of the students from the school admission register. This harsh step was taken after the EAC found that all the 22 students were students of a private school in Bijoypur village which falls under another circle namely Bordumsa. This private school has been using Government Middle School, Dumpani village under Diyun circle as a feeder school for its Class VIII students. These 22 students had appeared in the final examination in this school during  academic session 2010-11 and successfully passed out. Subsequently, these students were admitted in Class IX at Diyun secondary school in this academic session on production of Class VIII pass certificates from Middle School, Dumpani village. 

However, the EAC stated that no prior approval was obtained from the local authority to get the feeder status and declared the admission of these students as illegal.  Since then the fate of these students’ was hanging in balance. Five of the 22 students were girls.

The issue was sorted out following talks held with the EAC and Students’ Union members. However, the order was accompanied with a rider that these 22 students will have to shift to other schools in the next academic session. 

Yet, these students are happy to be back to school. 

Names of the 22 students are given in the table below.

Sl No
Students’ Name
Father’s Name
Miss S Chakma
Shri K. D. Chakma
Master   D. D. Chakma
Shri Lokhindar Chakma
Master   S. L.Chakma
Shri J. M. Chakma
Miss N. Chakma
Shri S. K. Chakma
Master   S. K. Chakma
Shri B. M. Chakma
Master   C. Chakma
Shri S. K. Chakma
Master   A. Chakma
Shri A. K. Chakma
Master L. J. Chakma
Shri S. L. Chakma
Master   A. M. Chakma
Shri A. S. Chakma
Miss G. Chakma
Shri D. D. Chakma
Master   A. Chakma
Shri D. C. Chakma
Master   R. Chakma
Shri K. D. Chakma
Master  J. K. Chakma
Shri N. K. Chakma
Master   S. B. Chakma
Shri B. G. Chakma
Master   S. C. Chakma
Shri K. Chakma
Master   K. Chakma
Shri J. K. Chakma
Miss B. Chakma
Shri B. S. Chakma
Master   B. K. Chakma
Shri M. D. Chakma
Master R. J. Chakma
Shri R. C. Chakma
Master   M. R. Chakma
Shri S. Chakma
Master   S. M. Chakma
Shri S. R. Chakma
Miss C. S. Chakma
Shri J. R. Chakma

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

High Power Committee under MHA to hold First Meeting to discuss Chakma-Hajong issues on 17th October

By Tejang Chakma

The High Power Committee constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India is going to hold its first meeting on 17 October 2011 at Banquet Hall, Itanagar, Arunachal Pradesh at 2.30 pm. The meeting will discuss various issues relating to Chakmas and Hajongs including grant of citizenship and resettlement.

The following is the "Public Notice" issued by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh on 27 September 2011 inviting all the members and special invitees of the Committee to attend the meet. 

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Longding: No. 17th district of Arunachal Pradesh

By Tejang Chakma

On 26 September 2011, Longding becomes the 17 district of Arunachal Pradesh. The new district curved out of insurgency-hit Tirap district, is located 54 Kms off Khonsa, the HQs of Tirap district. Longding which shares boundary with Nagaland and Myanmar is inhabited by the Wancho tribe who are mainly dependent on jhum (shifting) cultivation.

The new district was created with the state Legislative Assembly passing the Arunachal Pradesh (Re-Organization of Districts) (amendment) Bill, 2011 with voice votes. The district will comprise of administrative units of Longding, Kanubari, Pongchao, Wakka and Pumao Lawnu.

The total population of the district is estimated to be about 60,000 people. Few other districts in the state also have low population. 

In June 2010, the state government headed by the then Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu constituted a high power committee to finalise the boundary and creation of the district following approval by the state cabinet on its meeting in August 2009. In August 2010, the Committee submitted its report with recommendation for creation of the district.

State’s Chief Minister Jarbom Gamlin, who is also the Minister in-charge of District Administration, while moving the bill justified the creation of the district on the ground that the area lags far behind in a developmental aspects and appealed the members to support the bill. The Chief Minister added The creation of the new district will meet the aspiration and long felt demand of the people and also enable the government to run the administration effectively to achieve speedy development in all fronts.”

There was little opposition to the Bill. Earlier, Congress member Newlai Tingkhatra, who represents Kanubari constituency, expressed apprehension that the new district would create tension between the communities over distribution of villages and demarcation of boundary.

289 persons killed by Naxals in six months of 2011

By Tejang Chakma

The Naxalites or the Maoists have killed 289 persons in the first six months of 2011. This indicates that at an average of 48 persons have lost their lives every month or more than one person per day.

On 7 August 2011, Shri Jitendra Singh, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs in written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha stated that 208 civilians and 89 security forces were killed by the Naxalites in 912 incidents from 1 January 2011-30 June 2011.  The highest number of the killing was reported from Jharkhand with 66 followed by Chhattisgarh (52); West Bengal (31); Maharashtra (21); Bihar (19); Orissa (16); and Andhra Pradesh (3). Most of the civilians were also killed in Jharkhand (66) followed by Chhattisgarh (52). Four Naxalites incidents were reported from Madhya Pradesh, fortunately there was no report of any casualty.  

In 2010, 1005 persons, including 720 civilians and 285 security forces, were killed by the Naxalites in as many as 2212 incidents.

On 13 September 2011, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram called the “Naxalism a bigger challenge than terrorism or insurgency.”

Majority of the civilians killed were accused of being police informers. The Naxalites have been responsible for brutal killing of their hostages after abduction. Often the hostages were killed by slitting their throats or beheading or subjected to torture through the so called Jan Adalats (people’s courts) in full public view to instill fear among the people.

In April 2010, the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR), a leading human rights NGO in India, has termed the Maoists as the “worst human rights violators” among all armed groups in the country. In its report titled Torture in India 2010, ACHR stated “often these killings were authorized by Maoist ‘people’s courts or Jan Adalats.”

In fact, the number of Jan Adalats has increased. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the number of Jan Adalats increased to 48 in 2010 (up to 31 August 2010) from 38 in the corresponding period in 2009. The number of persons killed in Jan Adalats also increased to 21 from 11 during the same period.