19th April, 2018, Diyun: In view of the precarious situation of Chakmas of Arunachal and the un-democratic value system prevalent amongst the organizations fighting for Citizenship rights, the long-proposed general Unity Conference of all Chakma GBs, members, public leaders, intellectuals and common people to discuss, deliberate, and chalk out future plan was convened on 17th and 18th April, 2018 at Dumpather, Diyun.
After two-day threadbare meeting, “Chakma Rights and Development Organisation” (CRDO) was formed to be headed by Mahendra Chakma as its President, Anton Chakma as GS. Other members include Udayan Chakma & Somiral Chakma-Vice-President, Amar Bikash Chakma and Bodhisatta Chakma as AGS, Samiran Chakma & Bijaya Chakma as Org. Secy, Indrajit Chakma as Finance Secretary.
In the process of formation of the new organization after extensive discussion and deliberation amongst 13 GBs, public leaders, intellectuals and the general public, one of the highlights is the acceptance of the fact that the oppressed themselves need to pull up socks big time and must be a part of CRDO in letter and spirit. Therefore, the power of COLLECTIVENESS was very well emphasized and understood. The outcome can be summed as "WE ACCEPT COLLECTIVE RESPONSIBILITY TO CO-CREATE OUR OWN FUTURE".
Key takeaways from the meeting:
- Our society is at crossroads today. After 54 years, we still continue to be excluded from the mainstream Indian society stigmatized as “refugees” while the reality is that 90% are citizens of India by birth and therefore are eligible to exercise all fundamental rights as guaranteed under the Constitution of India. These rights include right to employment, various central and state government schemes like MGNREGA, ration cards, etc.
- The Supreme Court of India, on numerous occasions, have categorically reiterated that those persons who migrated to India before March 25, 1971 are eligible for Indian citizenship and their applications should be processed under section 5(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 in a time-bound manner. It is unfortunate that the 4637 citizenship applications submitted so far are still pending despite multiple follow-ups for so many years causing undue hardship and challenges to the applicants and their future generations.
- The legal road seems to be endless and the general public are dejected as they are made to pay their hard earned money towards lawyers’ fees. While we had multiple verdicts in our favor since 1996 but the recent admission of the review petition filed by AAPSU regarding the ILP issue in the Supreme Court casts doubt over our future as it will lead to further delay and protracted litigation of our issue.
- A special GBM of CCRCHAP was held in August 2017 where a resolution, inter alia, was passed to constitute an organization to fight for fundamental rights of the 90% citizens by birth and work for restoration of rights leveraging all the 4 pillars of democracy. This is yet to see the light of the day as the youth population continue to suffer working under exploitative working conditions in Noida, Chennai and elsewhere due to lack of ST and other opportunities. Our initial movement under the banner of CCRCHAP was multidimensional in approach and it had achieved early success. About 5000 voters have been enlisted in the electoral rolls as on date and the process is still on but the pace of enrolment is very slow and there are still 80% eligible voters for enrolment.
- While we are faced with such a mammoth task ahead, it has come to our notice that a CCRCHAP general body meeting was held on 4th April 2018, where no proper notice or official circular was issued – only a select members were invited verbally and the meeting conducted. This was done without the presence of GS, which in itself is surprising. Further, the meeting was reportedly invited to discuss the ongoing Panchayati Raj court cases but during the course of the meeting a resolution was adopted to extend the tenure of the current executive body by another term of 4 years. If true, this is a violation of the bye-laws of CCRCHAP, illegal and anti-democratic.
The priorities and aims and objectives of the CRDO are pretty clear with the above key points and the bye-law of the organization is expected to be constituted soon.
The formation of the CRDO is a historic moment for majority of Chakmas whereas CCRCHAP is opposing it tooth and nail. People are excited with the new energy and enthusiasm infused in the community by Mahendra Chakma and his team.
Mahendra Chakma is the founder General Secretary of CCRCHAP who lead the Chakma rights movement to pinnacle during his tenure till 2005 and presently works in a senior management position in an MNC at Bangalore. He also has an MBA from IIM Kolkata.