Tuesday, 24 July 2012

ARRD expresses concern at discrimination meted out to two Chakma students

By Tejang Chakma

THE ACTION for Rights and Rural Development (ARRD) has expressed its concern over the undesirable action of Extra-Assistant Commissioner (EAC) of Diyun Circle in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh which resulted in denial of admission of two students, belonging to the Chakma community, at Jawahar NavodayaVidyalaya, Bordumsa.

In a press release on 23 July, the organization, working for the welfare and development of communities based in rural and remote areas in the north east India, stated that two Chakma students under Diyun Circle had cleared the selection test held in May for admission to Class IXth at Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Bordumsa through Lateral Entry for academic year-2012-2013.

Last month, the Principal of JNV, Bordumsa informed the parents that their wards have been selected by the Vidyalaya Selection Committee for admission to Class IXth. The Principal further informed the parents to report to the school on 5 July 2012 for admission of their wards along with the affidavits certifying that they belong to rural areas and income certificates, which has to be issued by the competent authority.

The release also stated that pursuant to the admission notice, the parents of the two students approached the EAC, Diyun on July 4 requesting for issue of the documents to enable their wards to get admission. Shockingly, the EAC, Diyun did not issue the documents and allegedly bluntly told the parents not to come to his office again regarding the matter. Consequently, the two students lost the opportunity to access good quality modern education at the NVS, Bordumsa.

“The action of the EAC, Diyun, who is the administrative head, is unfortunate and discriminatory in nature without any doubt and violates the provisions of the Constitution of India, and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child, to which India is a party and further constitutes denial of educational opportunities to the two Chakma students from accessing quality education,” stated the ARRD press release.

“The Action forRights and Rural Development appeal the EAC, Diyun to issue all the relevant documents required to enable the students to take admission at the JNV, Bordumsa irrespective of their caste, creed, religion etc and also requests the JNV, Bordumsa to admit the students provisionally or extend the time for admission,” added the press release.

Published by Merinews, 24 July 2012

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Chakma students in an Arunachal school forced to move out within days after admission

By Tejang Chakma

IN A shocking move, 38 Chakma students of a government higher secondary school in Changlang district in Arunachal Pradesh have been forced to move out of the school on July 18, 2012. The students were admitted in the school during 1st to 7th July 2012 pursuant to the directions of the National Commission for Protection ofChild Rights (NCPCR), the apex child rights body in the country.

The school in question is Government Higher Secondary School, Kharsang under Miao sub-division in Changlang district. Following interventions by the NCPCR, the Principal of this school in an undated notice informed the Chakma students of respective feeder schools to take admission. Subsequently, 38 Chakma students hailing from Ratnapur, Golukpur and Milapur villages under Kharsang circle were admitted in the school. Out of the 38 students, 20 students are girls. While at least eight are students of previous academic session (2011-2012) who already lost one academic year due to denial of admission.

Prior to this shocking decision, the Principal of Government Higher Secondary School, Kharsang called the village headmen of the three villages of Ratnapur, Golokpur and Milanpur to his office and directed them to transfer their children to Guatampur Middle school under Diyun circle which has been recently upgraded up to class IX. The Principal informed the village headmen that he has been instructed by the Deputy Director of School Education (DDSE), Changlang vide order dated 11 July 2012 to move out the Chakma students.

It is important to mention here that the up-gradation of Government Middle School to Class 9th is still in paper only. The Government Middle School, Gautampur is one of the 15 One-Section Schools approved during the 13th meeting of Project Approval Board (PAB) for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) held on 12th July, 2011. The cost of each of the school is Rs. 46.86 lakh. However, the construction of classrooms is yet is start and there are no teachers to teach the class 9th students.

It is learnt that the DDSE, Changlang vide his order dated 11 July 2012 has also instructed the Principal of Government Higher Secondary School, Miao to move out 14 Chakma students admitted in the school following the NCPCR orders. There are 13 Chakma students from Government Middle School, a feeder school to Government Higher Secondary School, Miao who were refused admission in this school due to so-called confusion over jurisdiction.

This means that Gautampur school will have to accommodate 65 students without classrooms and teachers. At least two sections will be required apart from each subject teacher. The condition of Gautampur school is already dismal just like any other schools in Chakma areas. Currently, only four teachers are teaching a total of 635 children from Classes 1 to 8.

In the absence of classrooms the transferred Chakma students are most likely to be accommodated in the school’s common room, while the existing four junior teachers will have to teach the secondary students. In addition, these students have to walk a distance of more than 20 km (to and fro) daily to attend the school. There is also risk to their lives as they have to cross twice the turbulent Noa-Dihing river, which divides the Gautampur school with the three schools at Miao, Kharsang and Dharmapur.

These facts have been completely ignored by the concerned authorities and the action reflects racial discrimination with respect to the Chakmas. Not a single Chakma student has been admission in secondary schools in Miao and Kharsang circles since 1994 solely because of the ethnic origin. As a result, a number of Chakma students in these two circles have been involuntarily dropping out. Last year, at least 88 Chakma students, including 27 girls, had to drop out. Even the 52 students were reluctantly admitted in the two schools earlier this month at the intervention of the NCPCR.

Apart from the blatant violations of the NCPCR’s order, the actions violate the provisions of the Constitution of India, RMSA and the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, in which India is a party.

Published in Merinews, 19 July 2012

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Admission crisis continues to haunt Chakma students

By Tejang Chakma

IT SEEMS there is no end to the admission crisis among the Chakma students of Arunachal Pradesh. At least 14 Chakma students, who passed class 8th from Govt. Middle School, Dharmapur under Miao circle in Changlang district, have been denied admission to class 9 at Govt. Higher Secondary School, Miao.

Since the last few years, the Chakma students in two circles of Miao and Kharsang have been dropping out after upper primary level due to denial of admission in neighborhood secondary schools.

Pursuant to intervention of the NCPCR (DO letter No. 4A/2011-12/Misc/NEC/NCPCR/1548 dated 27.6.2012 to Secretary (Political), Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh), the Govt. Higher Secondary School, Kharsang and Govt. Higher Secondary School, Miao started admitting Chakma students from this month. About 51 students have been admitted in the two schools. 37 in Govt. HS School, Kharsang and 14 in Govt. HS School, Miao respectively.

However, at least 14 Chakma students of Govt. Middle School, Dharmapur under Miao Circle have been refused admission to Class 9th at the Govt. Higher Secondary School, Miao in violation of the order of the NCPCR, the apex child rights body in India. Following NCPCR’s order, the parents/guardians approached the Principal of the school and the local administration for admission of their wards, but returned dejected.

It has been learnt that admission was refused on the ground that “no order has been received by the Govt. Higher Secondary School, Miao to admit students from Govt. Middle School, Dharmapur.”

Another pretext craftily used to deny admission was the “issue of jurisdiction” of the Dharmapur school. Following refusal of admission by the school, the parents/guardians met the Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC), Miao. To the astonishment of the guardians, the EAC brought fore the issue of jurisdiction of the middle school i.e. whether or not the Dharmapur Middle school is feeder to Govt. Higher Secondary School, Miao. Accordingly, the EAC instructed the Circle Officer, Miao to ascertain the feeder status of the school.

It is not known what forced the EAC, Miao to question the feeder status of the Dharmapur Middle School. There is no doubt that Dharmapur Middle School is feeder to Miao Secondary School. Official records show that Dharmapur village falls under Miao administrative circle. The EAC, Miao being the administrative officer is fully aware of this fact.

This gives the impression that the grounds propounded for refusal of admission are only lame excuses aimed at delaying, if not denying admission to the Chakma students of Dharmapur.

Published by Merinews, 13 July 2012

Thursday, 5 July 2012

NHRC seeks report from Home Ministry and Manipur Police over Bishnupur gang rape

By Tejang Chakma

THE NATIONAL Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought response from the Ministry of HomeAffairs, Government of India and Manipur Police within four weeks on the alleged gang rape of a 40-year-old tribal woman by four persons including two jawans of India Reserve Battalion (IRBn) at Keinou village in Bishnupur district.

Acting on a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights, a prominent human rights organisation in the country, the NHRC in its order on May 16, 2012 issued notices to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Superintendent to Police, Bishnupur district to submit reports.

The victim, mother of four, belonging to Zeliangrong community was on her way to Imphal to sell chillies when four persons in a car stopped the truck she was travelling in and abducted her after beating up the driver on March 22. The victim was taken to a secluded place where she was gang raped at gunpoint.

The accused also allegedly robbed her money and the chillies after the rape. Two accused jawans have been identified as Havidar Chungkham Ibomcha and Rifleman Kshetrimayum Kenedy of 1st IRBn, while two other accused are identified as Laikhuram Rojit, and Salam Bijen.

The incident had led to protest rallies, with people demanding speedy justice for the victim.

Published by Merinews.com, 5 July 2012

Child labour thrives due to connivance of govt officials

By Tejang Chakma

INDIA’S EFFORTS to fight the menace of child labour is yielding little results. The rhetoric to eliminate child labour of the successive governments at the Centre remained largely on paper.

India is home to highest number of child labourers under the age of 14 in the world. As per the 2001 census, an estimated 12.6 million children below the age of 14 years are engaged as child labourers. Unofficially, the figure is much higher. Majority of these children are exposed to the worst form of child labour.

It has been more than five years since the government banned employment of children through an amendment in the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986. But the situation today is far from inspiring.

Why this evil is not declining? The answer is not difficult to comprehend. The conviction rate under the Child Labour (Prohibition & Regulation) Act, 1986 is abysmally low. This fails to act as a deterrent for employers. Enforcement figures of the Ministry of Labour and Employment states that 23,53,098 inspections were conducted between 1997-98 and 2004-2005. Of these, 1,43,804 violations were detected and 59,026 prosecutions launched. The prosecutions resulted in 21,481 convictions and 5,505 acquittals.

One of the reasons for poor conviction in the country is due to lack of action against violators by the government officials. Instead of taking criminal actions, the officials make all efforts to save the violators from all types of criminal actions. This only encourages the violators. Even when the officials are identified they are given state protection.

A case of child labour, registered by the National Human Rights Commission in August 2000 in Bihar is a testimony. Two officials mandated to stop child labour were found responsible for inaction in saving children employed with dye and colour manufacturing factories in Lakhisarai district. The NHRC asked the state government to provide detailed information such as whether any fine was recovered from the employers or the action taken against the erring officers and the hazardous substance manufacturing companies which employed those children.

However, the state government failed to provide any information despite repeated reminders from the NHRC. Recently, the state government finally agreed to start departmental proceedings against the two guilty officers. In one of its proceedings in the case, the NHRC observed “it is a glaring case where the government officers/officials in connivance with the factory owner made all efforts to save the factory owners from all types of criminal actions.”

Child labour is thriving only due to lack of seriousness of the state governments to take action against the violators including its officials who connive with them.

Unless enforcement mechanism is strengthened little could be done to arrest child labour. There is also the need to buttress the provisions for rehabilitation apart from the need to add more in the list of prohibited employments for children.

Published on Merinews.com, 4 July 2012

Monday, 2 July 2012

All flood-stranded villagers rescued in Arunachal

By Tejang Chakma

AS MANY as 185 Chakma villagers stranded in flash floods for more than three days in Arunachal Pradesh's Changlang district were finally rescued by an Indian Air Force (IAF) team on June 28, 2012.

The IAF was pressed into action after rescue operations by the Army and the local administration failed. The rescue operation began at 10.30 am and lasted for almost three hours. All the stranded and starving villagers which included women, children and aged were successfully evacuated by a Mi-17 chopper by 12.45 pm.

The smooth IAF rescue operation was made possible only after some expert swimmers, encouraged by Changlang Deputy Commissioner Opak Gao and Bordumsa ADC Kento Riba, monoeuvered across the turbulent river in two country boats to reach the inaccessible area where they built a makeshift helipad by planks that facilitated the landing of a chopper.

The IAF-rescued villagers joined other displaced families in temporary relief camps.

Arunachal Pradesh is prone to floods in particular during the monsoon. Due to high annual rainfall and geological fragility of the region, the floods render many people homeless, devastate agriculture, destroy road communication, towns and other public assets. In Changlang district, the Noa-Dehing river wreaks havoc. Thousand acres of lands have been lost in the last many years.

Published by Merinews.com, 29 June 2012