Last year, eighty-eight students belonging to the Chakma community of Arunachal Pradesh had suffered one academic lost due to denial of admission in secondary schools. These poor and hapless students did not get admission despite interventions of the National Human Rights Commission and National Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The interventions by the National Human Rights Institutions had little impact due to willful non-compliance of the orders. The state government did not submit reports despite reminders issued by the Commissions. Finally, when the reports were submitted it had no relevance as by then the school academic session was well over.
The recent direction of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) makes the picture clearer. Taking cognizance of a complaint filed by Asian Centre for Human Rights, the NHRC asked the state government to submit report, within two weeks, regarding denial of admission to the Chakma students to secondary school. No report was forthcoming despite reminders. It takes a final reminder on 28 February 2012 to get the state government moving. Yet, it took almost two months to submit reports. In a letter dated 18 April 2012, the Commissioner & Secretary (Education), Government of Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar has forwarded reports obtained from various authorities of the State Education Department.
But the reports submitted are not legible. In its latest proceedings the NHRC noted “The Commission perused the reports which are very dim and not legible.” This left the Commission with the only option to ask for clear and legible reports. Accordingly, the Commissioner & Secretary (Education), was directed to send clear and legible copies of the reports within six weeks. The time given has no value now as the students lost a year.
The story was written in advance by the state government and the NHRC was made to do what it wanted. Yet, another delay. The delay is not hard to understand. It was deliberate and has two reasons.
First, the state government has no answers for the academic loss of the students. So, illegible reports were purposely submitted to further the delay.
Second, the Chakmas are not recognized as citizens and not treated equally. They are kept out of government scheme. The state does not want to see the development of the Chakma community. Education is a key to development of any society. Now, the denial of education opportunity has become a tool to keep the Chakmas in dark.
Nothing will compensate the loss suffered by the students. Their future has been destroyed. This is not one off case. Many Chakma children are silently dropping out due to lack of access to schools over the years. They have only one option left to get married early and become parents of multiple of children. Yet, the state complained that the population of the state is increasing due to influx from states like Mizoram and Tripura.
The question is whether the Chakmas of Mizoram, where they have their own autonomous district council, and Tripura, where the Chakmas have all opportunities including education and employment, will come to Arunachal Pradesh to live in destitution.