Chakmas demand suspension of border fencing

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Aizawl, Jan 16 (UNI) Chakma residents in Mizoram, near the Indo-Bangla border, today demanded immediate suspension of the ongoing border fencing unless an appropriate rehabilitation programme was made.

''We are not against fencing of the Indo-Bangladesh border but we want the authorities to order suspension of work till a concrete rehabilitation programme is put into place,'' Young Chakma Association legal cell advisor Dilip Kanti Chakma said this morning.

The affected families have been staging an indefinite peaceful bandh at Marpara and adjoining villages along the border since January 13 to express their grievances for the 'failure and delay in dispensing with the compensation money for the displaced people affected by the border fencing,' sources from Marpara told UNI here today.

This decision was taken after organisations consisting of students, youths and women came out together to show their solidarity to the victims of border fencing.

The agitators were demanding suspension of the fencing works until problems like loss of agricultural lands, alienation of people and land compensation were appropriately compensated.

Chairman of the compensation committee Bharat Chandra Chakma lamented that 'the denial of timely compensation to the displaced and the absence of any proper mechanism for rehabilitation infringed upon the fundamental right to life and their right to live in dignity,' and warned against social tensions and instability as a fallout of such failure.

To make matter worses, the affected people, whose primary source of living was jhum cultivation, had been hit hard by the catastrophic Mautam (bamboo flowering) and its related rodents, he stated.

The 318 km-long stretch of border fencing would displace about 5,790 families comprising of 354348 persons already living in acute poverty, illiteracy and jobless, according to Chakma.

No concerned officials were available for their comments.

UNI ZS KK PB BD1655

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