In Mizoram, over 35,000 Chakma tribals are going to be displaced due to the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing which is being constructed to prevent anti-national activities and illegal infiltration from across the border.
RAISING MANY eyebrows, the government of Mizoram has said it did not consider Chakmas who have lost their homes and land to the ongoing India-Bangladesh border fencing as “displaced”. The government of Mizoram stated this in a reply to the complaint filed by a tribal rights, NGO, Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN) to the National Human Rights Commission alleging denial of timely compensation to the victims.
While stating that the victims are “compensated appropriately” for any damage as a result of the fencing, the State government however, refused to recognise the victims as “displaced” because “the fencing line is not the boundary of Indo-Bangladesh border” and therefore, there is “no objection” if the victims continued to reside “outside the fencing line”. “It is also informed to the villagers that their shifting from outside to the inner side of the fencing will depends upon the will of the villagers. There is no compulsion to have their residence shifted to the inner side of the Fencing Line,” Romawia, deputy secretary to the Government of Mizoram stated in response to AITPN’s complaint.
The villagers whose homes have fallen on the other side of the fencing have expressed serious security threats. In April, 2008 the then Mizoram chief secretary Haukhum Hauzel said the Mizoram villagers who have fallen outside the fencing line feared for their security. In Bindiasora village, about 80 families fell outside the border and the villagers were prevented by the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) from getting sand from the river which used to be their main source of income.
“What is the government doing? After losing everything we have, including our homes and land if we are not ‘displaced’, then who is a ‘displaced person’?” asked a Chakma victim in Tarabonye village on the India-Bangladesh border. “We are too worried about our future” added another hapless tribal villager. The entire Tarabonye village has fallen outside the fencing. Last year the villagers had filed a complaint to the chief secretary alleging inadequate compensations.
According to an independent survey, a total of 35,438 Chakma tribals from 5,790 families in 49 villages will be displaced due to the ongoing India-Bangladesh fencing project. They have lost their homes, land, garden, and other properties to make way for the fence.
Neither the Central government nor the State government of Mizoram has made public any resettlement and rehabilitation plan which has made the victims worried about their future.
Four public sector construction companies -- National Building Construction Corporation Ltd., Border Roads Organisation, Engineering Projects India Limited and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd are fencing the 318 km-long Mizoram-Bangladesh border.