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The Chakmas In Mizoram Are Struggling To Secure Their Rights And Identity

Chakma Autonomous District Council, Mizoram

In 1954, the central and Assam governments granted regional council to the Lakhers (Mara) and the Pawis (Lai) in the name of Pawi Lakher Regional Council. A large number of Chakmas also fell into the PLRC’s geographic boundary. The first meeting was reportedly held without understanding each other’s language – since there is no common language to communicate. Mizo was used as an official language, but Chakmas and Maras could hardly understand anything. As a result, the Maras decided to boycott the Regional Council’s meetings. Thus, in 1972, the PLRC was divided into three regional councils and upgraded to 03 district councils for Maras, Lais and Chakmas.

The Chakma Autonomous District Council was formed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India on 29 April 1972. The Council is the replication of the state assembly and exercises executive power over specially allotted departments. It is one of the three Autonomous District Councils of Mizoram state in North-East India. It is an autonomous council for ethnic Chakma people living in South-Western Mizoram bordering Bangladesh and Myanmar.

CADC has a land area of 1500 square kilometres. The total Chakma population of Mizoram is estimated to be more than 100,000. The entire community of Chakma Autonomous District Council belongs to schedule tribe. The total population of CADC is 43,528 as per 2011 census out of which 70% of it is dependent on agriculture. Chakma peoples are demanding Chakma Autonomous District Assembly “Chakmaland” as a Union Territory.

The majority of the people of Chakma Autonomous District Council are Theravada Buddhist. They have been following this religion for a long time.

The Chakma people have faced discrimination by the Mizo people time and again. The primary objective of the Young Mizo Association (YMA) is – good use of leisure, development of the Mizo society, and revere Christian ethics, but it is sad that the NGO has strayed from its main motto due to political influence.

We have witnessed YMA protesting and denying MBBS seats to eligible Chakma candidates – including eligible seats when the candidates have qualified the All India entrance exams. YMA is not allowing the rule of law to work in Mizoram. On 10th October 2018, YMA led a protest in the state and appealed to the public to support their movement for the abolition of Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) – which is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

On the other hand, the Chakma people are working hard to get a peaceful and better life, and are urging the state government to consider them as indigenous people. The government should ensure that Chakmas get equal rights and opportunities in the state and the country.