Who would have thought that the two and half decade rule of C.C Singpho at Bordumsa-Diyun could be brought to an end? He was a gladiator who made knights bite the dust in the arena of politics, the likes of Khumral Lungphi, Lajala Singpho and Mayong Mayo dared to challenge him but none could stand before his shrewdness.
For years, people at Bordumsa-Diyun only wished for divinity to conquer Singpho’s fortress. He was considered invincible for his vast experience and at his own home ground, challenging him needed a man with nerves of steel.
A knight in shining armor from far Yachuli, Papumpare District had plans in the mind; he appeared like a flash of lightning and conquered the aging Gladiator of Bordumsa-Diyun. He came, he spoke, he won hearts, connected with deprived and deserted but deserving and like a lighthouse, showed direction.
Mr. Nikh Kamin is an excellent orator, his choice of words and language stroked a cord with the voters. He almost made the election campaign, a movement of common people against injustice, deprivation, discrimination and rutted development. In his words “this is not my fight but yours and the win shall be not mine but yours”, these passionately spoken words won him many admirers and the result was a huge victory.
The incumbent Member of Legislative Assembly has a very daunting task ahead of him as he carries the hopes and aspirations of the people of the most difficult constituency. Chakma-Hajong issue is one of the most contested issues in Arunachal that need very careful and tactful treatment. The ST/PRC issue of Deoris is another intimidating issue that needs proper attention. Bordumsa circle has many deprived communities that would be expecting positive development in their areas.
What the Chakmas can least expect from the Honorable MLA of Bordumsa-Diyun? To understand them better as a community- because he comes from western Arunachal that never had a direct communication with the Chakmas, they know them only through the past representatives of the constituency and partially through the truth-tempering and lies-exaggerating media. The media has not been so friendly or virtuous about this chronic issue, the blatant reporting, fabricated truths and exaggerated wrongs especially in print media formulated a negative public opinion and beliefs and influenced perceptions of the locals, eventually, succeeding in demonizing Chakmas as a community. Now, represented by a god-loving, unprejudiced and sensible personality, a slow and gradual change in the mindset of the people of western Arunachal about the Chakmas is inevitable.
The contentious issues such as alleged continuous influx of Chakmas, illegal encroachment, criminal records etc. should be clarified to the locals of Arunachal based on truth backed by stats and figures.
The alleged increase in population due to continuous influx is the most combative issue. To understand this status quo, let us refer to the Special Survey conducted by the Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, the total population of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state is around 53,800 as in June 2011 and according to the 2001 census, it was 42,333 persons. This means that there was a growth of only 11,467 persons in ten years which certainly can’t be called abnormal growth. The decadal growth rate of the Chakmas and Hajongs has come down to about 27 percent from 31.48 percent during the 1991-2001. The contention that the population is over one lakh is inflated. In fifty years, the population has increased from 14,888 to 53,800 which is very normal and natural growth.
But today, it is utterly significant to check abnormal growth as the cultivable land has shrunk, the fertility of the land has decreased due to flood and erosion. The total dependence on monsoon and primitive methods of agriculture is making it difficult to sustain the existing population. The factors that can promote undesired population explosion are backwardness, lack of education among the people and unemployment. Although, the Chakma-Hajong population is not abnormal as it is alleged but opening of schools, especially higher schools and colleges, in their inhabited areas will further make them aware about the harmful effects of rising population andwill make them more contributing and responsiblecitizens.
Encroachment is a response, response to the question of survival for the Chakmas. What options do these already backward people are left with, when they became landless due to flood and erosion? It is an emotional issue and survival instinct. There is no denying that forests are very important but it was a matter of life and death. What is more important, some hectares of forest or human survival?
Pick up the encroachment data of Arunachal, the so called Chakma encroachment area is actually a pint of salt comparing with other parts of Arunachal, but still made headlines. Responding to a question raised in Assembly on 21st March, 2013, the chief minister disclosed that altogether 3, 056 people encroached forest lands in various districts with the number maximum of 1,417 people under Namsai Forest Division followed by Nampong forest division (519), Lohit (412) and Banderdewa (375). Diyun forest range is nowhere at the top. Though, the encroachment is now a judicial matter and hopefully the question of survival will be considered most vital. Of course,they should practice afforestation, help to maintain ecological balance and preserve forests for the coming generations.
Another contentious issue is criminal and other anti-social activities by Chakmas. “A criminal is a criminal without any religion, tribe or community” as stated by Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Nabam Tuki on 15 August 2013 but it is derogatory and inhuman to synonymously visualize crimes with Chakmas or tag the entire community as criminals for the acts of few.It is an undeniable fact that there is presence of some criminals in the Chakma community, however, this (criminals) breed of people are present in all communities.
At the same time, we must also understand that the increase in criminal and anti-social activities is also directly related to backwardness, lack of education, unemployment, deprivation, inequality, injustice etc. and this is a problem being faced by all communities. As responsible citizens, we have to inform the villagers to not involve in criminal and anti-social activities and if they do, it will not be tolerated and the law of the land will take its course against them. Chakma Students Union (APCSU) must be lauded for their efforts to spread awareness against anti-social and criminal activities by organizing meetings, workshops, rallies and awareness program.
In the light of all the above issues, it is never going to be a walk in the park for the people representative to carry forward from where Mr. Singpho left, especially when the challenges are the issues mostly concerning Chakma community at Bordumsa-Diyun. The emphasis during the tenure should be implementation of development projects especiallyrelated to higher education, creation of employment opportunities, tactful resolution of the chronic Chakma-Hajong issue and keeping all the communities satisfied.
Above all, the Chakmas should hope that the incumbent MLA, NikhKamin to spread a positive message at Itanagar that Chakmas and Hajongs are not a threat, they want peace, development as a society and peaceful co-existence with their neighboring communities. At the same time, the Chakmas should not only be demanding citizens but also contributing citizen towards peace and development of the state and the country.