Flashback October 1994

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Chakmas Continue to be Isolated

With more than two weeks gone after the AAPSU deadline to foreigners to quit Arunachal before Sep. 30, problems are increasing day by day for both the foreigner and the state administration. Reports reaching Itanagar say that the additional companies of CRPF have been deployed in many sensitive places of Changlang district where the major chunk of the Chakmas are settled. Reports of violence have also appeared in a section of the press. The Chakmas are totally isolated as far as business, medical facilities and education are concerned.

Unlike the Tibetans who are willing to leave once Tibet is ‘free’, the Chakmas have no such option. When this correspondent met with some of them at M-Pen village, six kilometres out of Miao in Changlang district, they were scared, some two or three boys rushed towards our party with daos (cleavers) and we had to convince them that we were there to find out their side of the story. Kalinga Bikash Chakma, who came to M-Pen when he was just 11 years old recalls the time when the whole place was a dense jungle. “We made it green,” he says. Sarajeevan Chakma who was studying in class X at Government Higher Secondary School, Miao, had to leave the school as he was ‘threatened’. “We are not supported by anyone. We can not go to the market or hospital,” he said. The local population, who are mostly Singphos, have also made their intentions clear.