As part of Swachh Survekshan Grameen 2018 campaign, Sotai Kri, advisor to Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, called on the administrative officers, Gaon Burahs and NGOs of Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh on August 2, 2018. He held an open-air sitting and initially moderated an exchange session between the Gaon Burahs, public leaders and NGOs on the one hand and the Government department heads like Electrical, WS, PHE, PWD among others before articulating his message in general.
This kind of exchange was perhaps the first time to have taken place in Diyun whereby public grievances were heard firsthand and responded to by the concerned officials. If at all, this sets the stage for free expression of major issues that the attendants had in mind in the presence of Sotai Kri and the administrators including the Extra Assistant Commissioner of Diyun Circle on the one hand and Gaon Burahs, public leaders and NGOs on the other. The administrative officers have had the opportunity of appraising the attendants of the various upcoming projects pertaining to their respective departments while also placing the constraints they face. As Diyun is home to a multitude of communities, leaders of Chakma, Hajong, Singpho, Deori among others were in attendance.
Among the notable highlights of this first of its kind exchange held in Diyun, was the fact that the advisor to Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh created the opportunity for Anil Chakma, a veteran public leader of the Chakma people to narrate his life story in front of a noteworthy gathering of local administrators and other local community leaders clearly stands out. As a 14-year-old in 1964, he was one of the 14,888 Chakma people to legally migrate from erstwhile East Pakistan to India.
The veteran Chakma leader did manage to underline the actual timeline and the exact state of refugeehood of the Chakma people before land allotment and permanent settlement as Indians in erstwhile NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) during his discourse of firsthand experience as a cross-country migrant. It was significant because admittedly to this day, even 54 years after legally migrating from erstwhile East Pakistan to legally settle in Independent India, there is some sort of stigma attached to the Chakma and Hajong people and subsequent rights deprivation owing to blatant terming of them as refugees and propaganda by AAPSU (All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union) and other agents. Opportunities to witness the truth of the Chakma and Hajong people are hard to come by. It often gets drowned in the noises of political posturing and propaganda.
Sotai Kri in his address advised the department heads to take cognizance of the grievances placed by the local community representatives and take action. He did also make it a point to advise especially the Chakma people to conduct themselves in a certain manner that would help resolve their greater issues of restoration of rights, flood protection among others in terms of peaceful coexistence, checking criminal activities, forest land encroachment, etc. Overall, in his personal capacity, he saw hope in the Chakma people ultimately finding solutions to their problems. He acknowledged that Chakma and Hajong people are here to stay and they deserve every facility that the government has to offer especially birth certificates to those who are born here while also urging the administrative officials to view them in the same light as him.
Meanwhile, AAPSU, in the wake of NRC final draft publication in Assam, announced so-called “Operation Clean Drive” whereby they stipulated a deadline ending August 16, 2018, to all purported non-APSTs to either get valid ILP or leave Arunachal Pradesh. It kind of rings a bell as far as the Chakma and Hajong people are concerned as AAPSU likes to brand them as refugees at the drop of a hat. But only time will tell how that pans out for them.