Include Chakmas, Hajongs in COVID-19 relief aid: Centre

Aizawl/Itanagar: The Union DoNER Ministry has asked the Arunachal Pradesh government to include the 65,875 Chakma and Hajong tribals in the COVID-19 and lockdown related relief aid, officials and NGOs said on Friday.
Different organisations have criticised the Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh governments for depriving the Chakma and Hajong tribals in the COVID-19 and lockdown related relief aid in the two Northeastern states. Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, however, has denied the accusation.
DoNER Ministry’s Joint Secretary Rambir Singh in a letter to the Arunachal Pradesh Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar said that Suhas Chakma, Director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), has sought the intervention of the Prime Minister against massive hunger and starvation during national lockdown among 65,875 Chakma and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.
RRAG Director Suhas Chakma in a statement said: “The food relief has been provided to about 40 per cent of the extremely poor Chakmas and Hajongs like the daily wage labourers under the Diyun circle (under Changlang District of Arunachal Pradesh) on April 30. Hundreds of families under Diyun circle are still suffering from starvation.”
He said: “For the last 56 years, Chakmas and Hajongs faced discrimination as a matter of state policy and their exclusion from the COVID-19 economic package, which is the humanity’s largest humanitarian crisis in recorded history, exposes this state policy. It is not only at Diyun circle but in other areas such as Miao, Chowkham, Kharsang, Bordums, the Chakmas and Hajongs are facing massive food shortages because of their exclusion.”
“Because of discrimination and exclusion in the last 56 years, overwhelming majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs have been reduced to daily wage labourers and these people require relief under the COVID-19 the most,” said RRAG Director.
There are accusations of discrimination in Mizoram too. The Mizoram Chakma Alliance Against Discrimination (MCAAD) leader Paritosh Chakma said they urged Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga to include hundreds of Chakma tribals from Mizoram who have been stranded in various parts of the country due to the COVID-19 related lockdown and provide them relief under the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. (IANS)

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