Friday, 27 January 2012

Election Commission’s special drive for universal adult franchise fails to reach Chakmas

By Tejang Chakma

On 25 January 2012, the National Voters' Day (NVD) was observed throughout the country. The NVD was started last year to commemorate the foundation day of the Election Commission of India and also to increase the participation of the voters, the youth in particular, in the democratic set up.

The NVD has already become a success with the registration of about 3.83 crore new electors across the country as on 1 January 2012. Most importantly, 1.11 crore are in the age group 18-19. However, the success was not that easy. The Election Commission of India (ECI) had to take up a nationwide special campaign to reach out to the newly eligible (18+) electors and register them in the just concluded revision of electoral roll with 1 January 2012 as the qualifying date. The Chief Electoral Officers of all States/Union Territories were instructed by the ECI to enroll every youth who has attained the age of 18.

Despite the success, the Election Commission’s special campaign failed to reach the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh. During the special revision carried out for the purpose, only few new electors have been enrolled in the four Chakma-Hajong inhabited Assembly segments of 14-Doimukh, 46-Chowkham, 49-Bordumsa-Diyun and 50-Miao.

The scenario is worst in the Diyun-Bordumsa segment with very low enrollment. As per the Electoral Roll, 2012 which was published on 5 January 2012 only 11 new eligible Chakma and Hajong electors have been enrolled during the special drive. This is despite the fact that majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs are concentrated in Diyun-Bordumsa segment having nine polling stations namely 30-Diyun IB, 31-Bijoypur, 32-Gautampur, 33-Jyotipur, 34-Dumpani, 35-Upper Mudoi Deep, 36-Jyotsnapur, 37-Dumpathar and 38-Haripur.

It is pertinent to mention that all eligible Chakma and Hajong voters have been submitting claims for inclusion of names in the electoral rolls. In 2003, Election Commission ordered Special Summary Revision of electoral rolls in the Chakma and Hajong inhabited constituencies. However, majority of the claims were rejected. Finally, names of about 1500 Chakmas and Hajongs were accepted. Subsequently, many of these names were deleted. This is clear from the Electoral Roll, 2012 which shows that presently there are only 1087 (including the 11 additions) electors in Diyun-Bordumsa segment. Previously, names of as many as 81 electors were deleted. See the table below for detail.

Polling station
Previously deleted
Present Total
Diyun IB
Upper Modoi Deep

The inclusion of only 11 new electors is another instance of the failure of the Election Commission of India to ensure the enrollment of names of eligible Chakma and Hajong voters in the electoral rolls. This is nothing new considering that the ECI continues to fail to enforce its own orders/guidelines including for the special campaign which have been violated by its state level electoral officials.

There is no doubt that the mission of Election Commission has been successful with more and more youth participating. But what is more important is that not just the youth but all eligible persons from all section of the society are enrolled across the country. It is high time the Election Commission of India rein in its electoral officials who violate the orders/guidelines to make universal adult franchise a complete reality.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

My Letter to the Editor of Arunachal Times

Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal

Dear Editor,

This is in reference to the Chakma Hajong refugees in Arunachal.

The question of Chakmas from other states coming to Arunachal Pradesh for “better livelihood” does not arise. In Mizoram, Chakmas have an Autonomous District Council (ADC) established under the sixth schedule to the Constitution of India where they have political autonomy, jobs, and social security. Will the Chakmas of Mizoram having ADC of their own migrate to Arunachal Pradesh where their brethren even do not have legal status? In Tripura, Chakmas are far better off than Chakmas of Mizoram. They have been selected in Tripura Civil Service, Tripura Police Service, medical services and prospered in all fields. It is undisputable fact that Chakmas of other states as citizens of India enjoy more rights, privileges and have better economic and livelihood opportunities than their brethrens of Arunachal Pradesh. Therefore, the question of infiltration of thousands of Chakmas into Arunachal Pradesh so as to result in “abnormal increase in the population to manifolds” is out of question. It is only a figment of imagination.

It is pertinent to mention that the special survey (2011) on the Chakmas and Hajongs conducted by the state government specifically for the purpose of the High Power Joint Committee has already put to rest the popular debate on the alleged rise in their population. As per the survey, the present population of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state is around 53,800. I do not think the figure, in 47 years, is alarming and abnormal. In fact, the decadal growth rate of the Chakmas and Hajongs has come down to about 27 percent during 2001-2011 from 31.48 per cent during the 1991-2001 census period.

Tejang Chakma
New Delhi

Thursday, 19 January 2012

137 DEATH PENALTY IN 2010: - India urged to pledge for the abolition of the death penalty before the United Nations -

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) today while making its submission urged the Government of India (GoI) to pledge for the abolition of the death penalty before the UN Human Rights Council when it comes for examination under the Universal Periodic Review in May 2012. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has drafted the National Report ( for submission to the UN Human Rights Council and invited comments from the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) by 20th January 2012.  In its submission, “India’s Draft Universal Periodic Report-II: A Case of Forced Marriage?” (, ACHR stated that inviting comments from the CSOs through email or fax is highly inadequate and the GoI must organise a national consultation with the CSOs, the National Human Rights Institutions and parliamentarians before it submits the National Report to the UN Human Rights Council.

“In 2010 alone, death penalty was given to 137 convicts which exposes the hollowness of India’s claim for application of the “rarest of the rare” as the justification for retention of the death penalty. The assurance given by the Government of India to the Government of Portugal for not imposing death penalty to gangster Abu Salem under the 'Rule of Speciality' underlines that death penalty is no longer acceptable as punishment by any civilized society.”  - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

In its submission, ACHR stated that human rights situations in India have deteriorated since 2008 when India’s human rights record was examined by the UN Human Rights Council under its Universal Periodic Review in April 2008. A total of 4,034 custodial deaths and 1,836 cases of torture in police custody during 2008-09 to 2010-11 were recorded by the National Human Rights Commission while a total of 740 civilians were killed in disproportionate use of fire-arms by the police from 2008 to 2010 according to the National Crime Records Bureau. A total of 309 cases of extrajudicial killings were recorded by the NHRC during 2007 to 2009.

“These figures do not reflect the actual number as both the National Human rights Commission and National Crime Records Bureau exclude human rights violations committed by the armed forces and the army. The Assam Police in its website claimed that they have killed 129 persons in encounters during January – July 2010.” - further stated Mr Chakma.

On denial of personal liberty, ACHR stated that 2,232 persons were detained under preventive detention laws in 2009 including 835 in Tamil Nadu, 356 in Gujarat, 294 in Uttar Pradesh, 182 in J&K and 143 in Manipur. These figures are miniscule of the actual detention under the preventive detention laws. The Uttar Pradesh Government recently claimed that 1,797 notorious criminals were detained under the National Security Act in the state.

India’s National Report provides only generic information about the legal framework and not the human rights situations and challenges. It fails to state that Jammu and Kashmir does not even a single home for juvenile girls who are detained in the police lock ups and prisons in clear violations of national and international human rights standards. The UN Human Rights Council in its session in April 2008 made 18 recommendations
( to the Government of India (GoI). The only recommendation that has been implemented is extending standing invitation to the UN Special Rapporteurs in September 2011 which binds India to allow the Rapporteurs to visit India. While the GoI has recently extended invitations to a number of Special Rapporteurs to visit India prior to the UPR examination in May 2012, it excluded the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture whose request to visit India has been pending since 1993.

The government of India has failed to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture – a commitment made in 2008. Though the Parliamentary Select Committee of the Rajya Sabha adopted the Prevention of Torture Bill on 6 December 2010, the GoI failed to introduce the Bill in the last winter session of parliament.

India further failed to adopt the National Action Plan for Human Rights despite starting the process in 10 July 1998.

Questioning the lack of seriousness of the Government of India, ACHR stated, “The entire exercise of the Government of India submitting its report under the UPR and seeking comments from the CSOs appears to be a case of forced marriage”.  [Ends]

Source: ACHR Press Release dated 19 January 2012, available at:

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

No let up in road mishap deaths in Tripura: another Chakma killed

Tripura’s roads, known for its smooth ride, are increasingly becoming deadly. At least nine persons have died in road mishaps in various places in the state so far in January 2012.

Manilal Chakma, aged 55 years, was one of the victims who succumbed to his injuries sustained after a pickup van fell down in a lunga at Jamini Para under Pecharthal police station in North Tripura district on January 5. Three other Chakmas identified as Bimal Bikash Chakma, (30), Kamal Chakma (28) and Sneha Ranjan Chakma (45) also received injuries. All of them were shifted to Machmara Primary Health Centre. Later, Manilal Chakma and Kamal Chakma were referred to RGM Hospital, Kailashahar. But, Manilal Chakma died on way to RGM Hospital.

According to the police, the incident occurred due to rash and negligent driving on the part of the driver of the vehicle. Police seized the vehicle, but the driver fled away.

As per the statistics of State’s Transport Department 1973 persons had died and 10860 persons were injured in a total of 7212 accidents from 2001 to 2010.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

NHRC seeks report from Assam Police Chief on police firing

By Tejang Chakma

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Director General of Police, Assam to file an action taken report with regard to the death of a 13-year-old minor and injuries to four others in police firing in Goalpara district of Assam on 25 November 2011.

Acting on a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights, the NHRC on 22 December 2011 directed the Director General of Police, Assam to file the report returnable within one month.

On 25 November, the police opened fire during a protest near the Dhupdhara police station in Goalpara district resulting in the death of the minor identified as Noor Jamal Ali and injuries to four others. The injured were identified as Rakesh Banjara (55), Saminoor Ali (18), Abdul Mali (45) and Diganta Bora (30).

The use of firearms is considered an extreme measure according to Article 3 (c) of United Nations Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials. It further states that “Every effort should be made to exclude the use of firearms, especially against children." 

Monday, 2 January 2012

2011: Rise in HR violation by security forces in Arunachal

The terms “peaceful state” have turned into a misnomer for Arunachal Pradesh. The state is often in the news for wrong reasons.

The state of human rights remained bad in 2011. In fact, the situation deteriorated compared to the previous year. The presence of armed opposition groups (AOGs) from the neighboring states and clashes between themselves severely affected the life and security of the people. This has prompted the Ministry of Home Affairs to declare the two districts namely Changlang and Tirap and some areas bordering Assam under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958.  

What is more alarming is that the protectors of the people are increasingly becoming the worst violators of human rights in the state. The infamous Daporijo police station MMS case where two minors were detained, forced to have sex and filmed by the police exposed the scant respect for human rights by the state’s police. It was not surprising when the state was ranked third among the north eastern states in custodial death cases by a leading human rights organization. The paramilitary forces and the army deputed in the state were also equally responsible for serious human rights violations during the year.

The following cases will make the picture clearer.

Case 1: Beating of Buddhist monks by CRPF

In a blatant disregard to religious sentiment, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel severely beat up five persons including four Buddhist monks at the Khampti Buddhist temple at Innao village under Diyun police station in Changlang district on 15 April 2011. The CRPF personnel identified as Mrijen Kolita and Dilip Kakoti of F Company 186th BN of the CRPF in an inebriated condition entered the Bhuddhist temple at about 5.30 pm and beat up the victims with their service belts. The four Buddhist monks were identified as Bhikku Agasarah, his assistants (Chowsang) Dhama Shiha Wanitah, Pingya Jotah and Chow Chali Longchat. The other victim was identified as C K Namchoom, a Village Chief. 

The accused also used abusive language against the monks and urinated inside the temple premises, which is a sacred place of the Buddhists.

Case 2: Village Chief tortured by Assam Rifles

On 25 June 2011, Tumwang Lowangdong, Chief of Khela village in Tirap district, was allegedly tortured at the 19 Assam Riffles Camp at Khonsa in the district. He was later allegedly implicated as a sympathizer of an armed group. The Assam Rifles while denying the torture charge stated that the Chief was only summoned at the camp for questioning. However, on 4 July 2011 Tumwang Lowangdong stated that he was tortured.

Case 3: Beating and stripping of two women by police

On 1 July 2011, two women identified as Mrs Tami Yagam (30 years) and Mrs Tami Yaro (32 years) were subjected to beating and stripped naked by two policemen identified as Tadar Take and Tadar Kochang outside the office of the Additional District Magistrate-cum Estate Officer, Itanagar Capital Complex in Naharlagun in Papumpare district.

The two victims had gone to the Additional District Magistrate-cum Estate Officer, Itanagar Capital Complex in Naharlagun to attend the hearing in a land dispute case. After the hearing, the two victims came out of the court when they were suddenly attacked on the court premises. The two accused not only beat the two victims without any reason, but also stripped them naked in front of the security guards and court officials. Thereafter, the two accused snatched a cash amount of Rs 10,000 /- from the victims’ bag. The two accused also tried to kidnap the two victims by forcing them into their vehicle.

Case 4: Serious injuries to 3 women in disproportionate use of firearms by police

On 25 July 2011, three women identified as Yakiam Mibang, Sania Lego and Y. Talom sustained serious injuries due to indiscriminate tear gas shell firing by the police at Pasighat town in East Siang district.

The victims were injured during an eviction drive by the East Siang district administration, police and forests officials. The affected people alleged that the police resorted to indiscriminate tear gas shell firing resulting in the injuries. The victims sustained severe injuries including internal bleeding and chest swelling and were admitted at the General Hospital Pasighat. Later, one of the victim, Yakiam Mibang had to be referred to Assam Medical College and Hospital, Dibrugarh for special treatment. She sustained severe ear drum split causing continuous bleeding.

The eviction drive had also resulted in 1500 people including women and children being rendered homeless.

Case 5: Beating of 1 person by police without any reason

On 2 August 2011, one Hugnya Basar was allegedly beaten up by two police personnel at D-Sector near Itanagar in Papumpare district. The victim was on his way home riding his two-wheeler when he was stopped and subjected to beating without any reason.

Case 6: Girl killed by IRBn personnel

On 14 September 2011, a 21-year-old girl identified as Rita Dorjee died and her mother sustained bullet injuries after an IRBn personnel Toko Doni reportedly fired at them at Paglek village in Pasighat. The accused got enraged following an altercation with the girl and opened fire killing the girl Rita Dorjee on the spot and injuring her mother Rupa Dorjee (41 years). 

Rupa Dorjee who sustained serious injuries on her face was rushed to Assam for further treatment.  

Case 7: Serious injuries to students in disproportionate use of firearms police and CRPF

On the night of 5 October 2011, 10 persons including nine students were seriously injured in disproportionate use of firearms by the law enforcement personnel during Dugra Puja celebration in Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district. All the victims were engaged as volunteers in the puja celebration. A team of law enforcement personnel comprising of India Reserve Battalion (IRBn), Special Task Force (STF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had gone to close down the Durga puja stalls erected outside the Durga Puja premises at Roing town. As the volunteers protested, the police team started beating the volunteers. Later, the team opened fire on the unarmed students which included girls. As a result, 10 persons were hit by bullets and sustained serious injuries on their bodies including in the head, hand, leg, thigh, etc.

The injured victims were admitted at the hospital, Roing. But, not satisfied the law enforcement personnel had gone to the hospital and opened fire in the air while trying to enter the hospital premises, to arrest and interrogate the admitted injured victims. Later, some of the injured victims were rushed to hospitals in Dibrugarh, Assam. Out of the 10 victims, nine were students. While seven victims were minors including a girl. The victims were identified as Tenzing Linggi (16 years); Asati Linggi (14 years); Jambo Pulu (11 years); Emimo Mekola (15 years); Rahul Meme (17 years); Alo Meme (16 years); Rajen Umpe (13 years); Nanong Langkam (20 years); Giti Mili (20 years); and Tanya Mihu

Case 8: Killing of 3 youth by Army in an alleged fake encounter

On the night of 25 December 2011, three innocent youth identified as Siba Moran (26 years), Dhiraj Barua (22 years) and Janak Moran (22 years) were shot dead by the personnel of 26 Maratha Light Infantry in an alleged encounter at the Noa-Dihing river bank at Namsai under Namsai police station in Lohit district. All the three victims were residents of Makum in Tinsukia district of Assam. The victims were reportedly returning home in motorcycle after attending a feast at Pahargaon neare Namsai Town. They were stopped by the personnel when they reached the bridge of the Noa-Dihing river on 52 National Highway and shot dead from point blank range. 

The Army claimed that the three victims were members of United Liberation Front of Asom and killed in an encounter. But, the relatives of the three and the residents alleged that they were innocent and killed in cold-blood by the Army in a fake encounter.