Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Government of India: Listen to the heartbeats of 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram

By Paritosh Chakma

It is painful to see how Hindi teachers recruited under Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) have been forced to go on “indefinite hunger strike” in the heart of Aizawl, capital city of Mizoram demanding immediate release of their pending 10 months' salaries and regularization of their jobs which have effectively expired today (28th February 2017). A total of 1305 Hindi CSS teachers recruited under “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs”, under which Central government pays the salaries, are uncertain about their future. Their jobs are hanging in balance because the scheme’s guidelines state that after the Plan year (currently, 12th Five Year Plan, 2012-17) the responsibility of maintenance of these Hindi teachers “shall rest upon the concerned State Governments/UT Administrations. They will be required to discharge this responsibility out of their own resources in their budget.”

Mizoram Hindi teachers staging indefinite hunger strike at Aizawl

While the State government of Mizoram has been so far non-committal to regularize their services, the Central government has not released salaries to them for ten months now! To make the matter worst, the Central government apparently has appointed recently a private institution Awadh Research Foundation based in Lucknow to evaluate the need of the scheme in Mizoram and any further decision will be based on the recommendations of this research institute.

Since 22 February, the Mizoram Hindi Teachers Association members have been forced to resort to “Pen Down Strike”, which included boycott of classes and annual exam, and took to the streets of Aizawl demanding just decisions from the governments, i.e. to regularize/extend their services, and payment of their salaries. Left with no other option, they launched indefinite hunger strike in front of the Chief Minister’s office & bungalow from today.

It is unclear as to why the Ministry of Human Resources Development has not released their salaries, as no official statement in this regard has been issued by the Ministry. It is also not clear as to why the evaluation of the scheme was not done much earlier, say in 2016, which could have avoided the situation of uncertainty and chaos as we are seeing today.

However, the answer may be found in the fact that it is not the CSS Hindi teachers alone who have not been paid for months. Almost 2,200 Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) teachers (which is also a Centrally Sponsored Scheme) across Mizoram have not been paid their monthly salaries since August 2016, as per a report by The Frontier Despatch, a local English weekly, dated 19th January 2017. These teachers who are able-bodied men and women employed by the Government are forced to rely on parents and relatives even for pocket money, not to mention for basic necessities and, in some cases,  for their ill children’s medicines. (Read, What it’s like to be an SSA teacher, The Frontier Despatch, 19 January 2017 )

It painfully appears that the government - both Centre and State - has been neglecting our teachers, which is not a healthy sign in our society.

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

Hindi teachers protesting in Aizawl

There is no doubt that the teaching of Hindi in the schools and colleges is extremely important for a North Eastern state like Mizoram where Hindi is little understood by the people. Hindi can ensure better communications between ethnic communities, ensure social progress, national integration and boost tourism in the state. Hindi can be a tool for empowerment to the population of the state by eradicating feeling of alienation from the mainstream, which is strong among the people of Mizoram, and help the ethnic communities linguistically when they are living outside the state (particularly North India, Hindi belt) for education, jobs and businesses etc and within the state.

Therefore, the Central government must continue the “Scheme of Financial Assistance for Appointment and Training of Hindi Teachers in Non-Hindi Speaking States/UTs” in Mizoram and extend the employment of these 1305 Hindi teachers without lose of time.

And, the healing process should start immediately by paying their salaries due for 10 months. The government of India, if truly a people's government, must listen to the heartbeats of these 1305 Hindi teachers of Mizoram.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Take Action: Build a bridge on Karnafuli river (Demagiri, Mizoram)

Demagiri, or Tlabung, in Western Mizoram near to the India-Bangladesh border, is a British era village (now a sub town). The British had set up their foremost frontier post here during the Lushai Expedition in 1871-72 and finally annexed the Lushai hills in 1890s. Demagiri was the gateway of British conquest of Lushai hills (present day Mizoram) and Lt Col TH Lewin had set up his headquarters here. The British came to conquer Lushai hills through the Karnafuli river, also known to Chakmas as Borgang, over which the mighty Kaptai Dam was built by the East Pakistan government in 1960s.  

Tragically, as of date there is no bridge over the Karnafuli river. The river which has swollen due to the Kaptai Dam waters, divides Indian villages and as many as 17 Indian villages, predominantly inhabited by Chakma tribal people, are on the other side of the river (bordering Bangladesh). An estimate stated that around 7,000 people live on the other side of the Karnafuli river. 

The villages which are situated on the other side of the Karnafuli river are (1) Nunsury I, (2) Nunsury II, (3) Bindiasora, (4) Tablabagh I, (5) Tablabagh II, (6) Tablabagh III, (7) Kalapani, (8) Lokkisury, (9) Malsury, (10) Devasora, (11) Puankhai, (12) Nakruksora, (13) Bandiasora, (14) New Balukiasuri, (15) Saichen, (16) Hmundo and (17) Mauzam.

Due to lack of a bridge over the Karnafuli river which according to me is one of the biggest rivers of Mizoram, flowing into Bangladesh, these border people are facing untold sufferings and remained disconnected with the rest of India.

Every day, dozens of tribal school children from the other side of the river put their lives at risk while crossing the fearful river of Karnafuli by small boats to come to schools at Demagiri (Tlabung) which is on the opposite side of the river (Indian side). (See the photograph of school children dangerously crossing the Karnafuli river by small boat at the risk of their lives while going to school.)

The only civil hospital is also situated at Demagiri which is inaccessible to the border people living on the other side of the river. In the absence of a bridge over the Karnafuli river, the villagers are forced to take motor boats which are quite expensive for the impoverished villagers. Lack of ability to pay the ferry charges directly result in denial of access to markets, banking and post office, schools, and communication facilities etc.

If a bridge is constructed over the Karnafuli river, the border inhabitants of these villages shall be uplifted not only economically in terms of access to markets and business but also in terms of access to education, health services, and other social welfare facilities. 

Above all, a bridge over the Karnafuli river will restore freedom of movement of these Indian citizens within their country from which they have been tragically deprived in independent India.

Therefore, the Government of India/Government of Mizoram should take urgent measures to build a bridge over the Karnafuli river at Demagiri.

Friday, October 28, 2016

AICSU performs at North East students festival in Delhi

On 22 October, 2016, the cultural troupe of the All India Chakma Students Union (AICSU) performed at the NESt Fest (North East Students Festival) programme organized by My Home India at 8, Ashoka Road, New Delhi.

Dance Video:

The full HD video of the Chakma dance is available at AICSU's official Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3C9JYYm_1dk&feature=youtu.be

Friday, June 24, 2016

BREAKING NEWS: Today Guwahati High Court stayed the operation of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016

C3/441, Top Floor, JANAKPURI, NEW DELHI-110058
EMAIL: aicsu2015@gmail.com

24 June 2016


AICSU welcomes stay granted by the Guwahati High Court this morning of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 

New DelhiThe All India Chakma Students Union (AICSU) welcomes the stay order granted by the Honourable Guwahati High Court this morning i.e. 24 June 2016 on the operation of the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 on the PIL No. 49/2016 filed by the Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) challenging the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2016 which was notified on 20th April 2016 by the Higher and Technical Education Department of Mizoram. 

The Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules, 2016 reserve 95% seats for Category I (Zo-ethnic people) while giving only 4% seats to Category II (Non-Zo ethnic people including Chakmas who are scheduled tribes and more backward than the Mizos) and 1% to children of Central government employees posted in Mizoram. Further, the State Medical and Technical Entrance Examination Information Brochure 2016” provides that Category I candidates (Mizos) will get first priority to take the seats/colleges and only the left out seat, if any, will be given to Category II candidates i.e. Chakmas and other non Mizo scheduled Tribes. This means effectively reserving 100% of the seats for the ethnic Mizos. 

The Higher and Technical Education Department has declared the allotment of seats but it is found that not a single seat in Engineering or MBBS has been allotted to Category II. This means that Chakma students despite scoring good marks in the State Medical and Technical Entrance Examination of 2016 would not get any MBBS or Engineering college despite being Scheduled Tribes like the Mizos.  

Earlier in 2015 the Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) had filed a PIL (no. 39/2015) in Guwahati High Court challenging the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) (Sixth Amendment) Rules of 2015 by dividing the Scheduled Tribes into indigenous i.e. Mizos and non indigenous (non-Mizo scheduled tribes) and reserving all the seats for the indigenous ethnic Zos. On 16 July 2015, the Guwahati High Court disposed of the PIL after the Mizoram government withdrew the Sixth Amendment Rules of 2015 and put the Chakmas under Category I (indigenous people). 

But this year again, the Mizoram government issued fresh notice and played fraud upon the Hon’ble Guwahati High Court as it included Chakmas under Category II under the Mizoram (Selection of Candidates for Higher Technical Courses) Rules of 2016 by effectively providing 100% reservation of seats for the ethnic Zos. [Ends]

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tuichawng Chhuah violence: A group of people claiming to be from MSU burnt down Govt Primary School on 26 February 2016

On 26.2.2016, a group of Mizo students claiming themselves to belong to Mizo Students Union (MSU), an influential student body, allegedly burnt down the  Government Primary School at Tuichawng chhuah village under Tlabung Police Station in Lunglei district of Mizoram, according to reports received from various Chakma NGOs working on the ground, including Mizoram Chakma Alliance Against Discrimination (MCAAD), the Young Chakma Association (YCA) and Mizoram Chakma Students Union (MCSU) and the villagers of Tuichawng Chhuah who filed a police complaint against the MSU at Tlabung Police Station after the arson.

After the violence, the Mizoram government took prompt action by providing security to the Chakma villagers by stationing Mizoram Armed Police personnel at Tuichawng Chhauh village.

The MSU in a statement has denied the allegations that it had anything to do with the burning down of the school at Tuichawng Chhuah but media reported that 9 top leaders of MSU were arrested by Lunglei Police in connection with the torching of the school and put behind bars for one day, before they were released after strong protests by the Joint Mizo NGOs.

The minority Chakma families have been living at Tuichawng Chhuah for over four decades and the government of Mizoram has extended all the facilities including school, assistance under New Land Use Policy, ration card, voter cards, electricity etc. However, out of a sudden on 17.12.2015, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Lunglei District, Mizoram issued eviction notice to 49 Chakma minority families of Tuichawng Chhuah to vacate the village. A writ petition No. WP(C) 134/2016 was filed before the Guwahati High Court which in its order dated 08.01.2016 stayed the eviction order of the Mizoram Govt.

Below are some of the media coverage of the incident.