[ Note: This is a Movement for Justice. For more information , write to Paritosh Chakma at email@example.com ]
I. Background to India-Bangladesh border fencing in Mizoram
The government of India has been erecting fencing along its 4096.7 km-long border with Bangladesh running through five Indian states of West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram in order to stop infiltration, smuggling and other alleged anti-India activities from across the border.
In Mizoram, the fencing is being erected along 318 km-long international border with Bangladesh. Out of the 318 kms border from Marpara to Borapansuri which is being fenced, National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC) has been given the major share of 147 kms while Border Roads Organization (BRO) is fencing 70 kms, Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) 55 kms and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC) 46 kms.
The border fencing has hit hard the already poverty-stricken Chakma tribals. A house to house survey conducted by Indo-Bangladesh Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee (IBBFARDCOM) of Mizoram found that the fencing will displace a total of 5,790 Chakma tribal families consisting of 35,438 persons from 49 villages.
Apart from loss of their immovable houses and properties, the villagers will lose already developed wet rice cultivation lands, horticulture gardens, gardens for growing vegetables and other cash crops, tree plantations of high commercial values like teak etc, community/ government assets like schools, health sub-centres, community halls, market places, places of worship, play grounds, cemetery/ grave yards, water ponds, water supply, and other government/ council office buildings, etc. The consequences of the mass displacement will be disastrous unless the government take concrete steps to provide all the facilities, including clean water supply, roads as the rivers will fall outside the fencing, markets, schools and primary health centres among others.
II. Violations by the four implementing agencies
The four implementing agencies of the border fencing – the National Building Construction Corporation Ltd. (NBCC), Border Roads Organization (BRO), Engineering Projects India Limited (EPIL) and National Projects Construction Corporation Ltd (NPCC) – have been blatantly violating the rules since day one.
These four implementing agencies refused to follow the guidelines for acquisition of the lands set by the Ministry of Home Affairs prior to construction of the fencing. In its various communications to the four implementing agencies, the Ministry of Home Affairs clearly stated that the four construction companies “shall be responsible for liaisoning with the State Government/ local authorities for acquisition of land and getting forest/ environment clearance for carrying out the fencing & related works”, and that they “shall finalize the alignment of the fencing in consultation with BSF (Border Security Forces) & DM (District Magistrate) of the area where the fencing is proposed”. But the four construction companies had started acquiring lands and erecting the fencing in their respective portions without any consultation with the tribal inhabitants or the local authorities, including the DM and the BSF.
In the beginning the Chakmas have willingly gave the lands in the interest of the country’s security and did not show any sign of protest. But as the implementing agencies began to blatantly violate the rules/ guidelines of MHA, the Chakmas under the aegis of Indo-Bangladesh Border Fencing Affected Families Resettlement Demand Committee have been demanding suspension of the border fencing project.
III. Blatant rights abuses by the NBCC
The NBCC is the only implementing agency which has failed to provide any compensation to the affected families so far. The graveness of the matter can be gauged from the fact that the NBCC is constructing fencing along147 km out of total 318 kms Mizoram border.
The verification of the affected families was completed nearly one year ago and even the list of the compensation to be paid to the affected families has reportedly been out.
The denial of compensation is a grave offence. Displacement poses the questions of survival and other rights issues. It involves right to food, education, livelihood, etc. The NBCC has also questioned the dignity of the entire Chakma community by denying any compensation. The injustice done to the fencing affected Chakmas is injustice to the entire people of Mizoram which the people of Mizoram won't tolerate.
The NBCC has failed to provide any explanation except that the Ministry of Home Affairs has not released compensation to the company to be paid to the victims. But this cannot be true. There are four implementing agencies in Mizoram and there cannot be reasons why the MHA would not have released compensation money to NBCC while it has already released compensation money to the three other implementing agencies.
IV. The Chakmas' movement
Since 13 January 2008, hundreds of Chakmas including women and children have been protesting at Marpara village near India-Bangladesh border in Lunglei district against the denial of compensation by the NBCC and halted any construction work of the NBCC.
On 18 January 2008, Mr SK Pandit, Deputy Project Manager of NBCC, Mizoram sector, signed an agreement with the protestors at Marpara to release compensation by 31 January 2008 following which the protest was temporarily suspended.
But the NBCC failed to keep its promise. The Chakmas therefore re-started their peaceful protests indefinitely and vowed not to allow any further construction of the fencing in Lunglei district by the NBCC.
On 3 February 2008, another meeting was held with NBCC officials at Marpara and a written agreement was signed between the Chakma leaders and Arun Kumar, a representative from the NBCC to provide compensation by 28 February 2008. The agreement was also signed by Officer-In-Charge of Marpara Police Station as witness. The meeting was among others attended by officials from the local Border Security Force camp and leaders of Marpara Village Council.
The Chakmas are fighting democratically for justice. They want justice to be done with them and will settle for no less. FULL compensation and PROPER rehabilitation will be the ultimate aim......>>>>
For other resources: please see
Of fencing and injustice
Chakmas threaten stir over border fencing
Press Release: Displaced Chakmas urged NBCC to provide compensation
Border fencing: Is Aizawl ready to wipe Chakmas’ tears?