New Delhi: On the directions of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the complaint filed by Suhas Chakma, Director of the Rights and Risks Analysis Group (RRAG), the Ministry for Development of the North Eastern Region (DONER) directed the Government of Arunachal Pradesh to take up the exclusion of the 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs from the ‘economic package for vulnerable sections in these difficult times of COVID-19 pandemic” that caused massive hunger and starvation as a “matter of priority”.
On 29 April 2020, Mr Rambir Singh, Joint Secretary of the DONER Ministry in a letter had directed Chief Secretary of Arunachal Pradesh Mr Naresh Kumar to address hunger and starvation as a “matter of priority”.
“The food relief has been provided to about 40% of the extremely poor Chakmas and Hajongs like the daily wage labourers under the Diyun circle till yesterday. A list of 1,544 families of extremely poor Chakmas and Hajongs was submitted to the Extra Assistant Commissioner (EAC) on 17th April 2020 but about 60% of these beneficiaries have been removed arbitrarily to little over 600 families. Hundreds of families under Diyun circle are still suffering from starvation, and the RRAG once again urged the Prime Minister today to ensure that no one goes hungry.”- stated Mr Suhas Chakma.
“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, speaks itself about the discriminatory State policy. It is not only at Diyun but in other areas such as Miao, Chowkham, Kharsang, Bordumsa etc, the Chakmas and Hajongs are facing massive food shortage 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 economic package the most”.- further stated Mr Chakma.
On 27 April 2020, the RRAG sought Prime Minister’s intervention against massive hunger and starvation among the Chakmas and Hajongs as the State of Arunachal Pradesh did not provide any relief to the Chakmas and Hajongs under the COVID-19 economic package announced on 12 April 2020. Arunachal Pradesh government instead issued a notification on 14 April 2020 to sell rice at the rate of Rs 29 per kg under open market scheme, the only scheme under which Chakmas and Hajongs can buy, while the same rice was being sold by the Food Corporation of India @ Rs 22 per kg across the country and by the Government of Arunachal Pradesh @ Rs 11 per kg to the Above Poverty Line families.[Ends]
As per the information provided after publication of the above information, the RRAG was informed that a total of 733 families and not “little over 600 families” were provided food rations. The same stands corrected.