Bangalore (Mizo News): The Chakma Law Forum(CLF), a platform that was formed with the aim to provide, represent, promote and safeguard the rights and legal interests of the Chakma community and provide legal aid to members of the community, has questioned and condemned the decision of the Mizoram government for giving in and agreeing in principle to the unreasonable and “unconstitutional” demand of the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP)to exclude Chakmas from the Category-I of (the Selection of candidates for Higher Technical Courses ) Rules 1999 and adding the term ‘Mizo” to the Rules to automatically exclude Chakmas from the purview of the Rules.
In a statement released to te media, the forum asserted that the Chakmas “are also indigenous of the state having been natives of the Western parts of the state since time immemorial.”
It has questioned the historical and legal foundation/basis of the MZP’s assumption and understanding of the idea of Mizos being the only ‘indigenous peoples of the state”.
The Forum also sought to remind that the concept of ‘indigenous peoples’ in the Indian context is neither formally defined nor established and all Scheduled tribes are understood to be indigenous and questioned the unsound distinction made by the MZP.
It cited the words of the then Chief Justice of India Y.K. Sabharwal who reiterated the Indian position on the concept of ‘indigenous peoples” while addressing the Plenary Session in the United Nations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in 2006, where he said that “ ….. it is not easy to identify indigenous peoples in India. For there have been continuous waves of movement of populations with different language, race, culture, religion going back centuries and millennia. Tribal communities have been a part of this historical process. In these circumstances the question arises as to how far back in history should one go to determine the identity of “indigenous peoples”? Whatever the nature of determination it is likely to be extremely arbitrary and controversial.”
The group claimed that closest that the Supreme Court had come to in making a direct observation on the link between the term “Scheduled tribes” and the term “indigenous peoples” is when in its judgment in 2011, while dismissing the Criminal Appellate Jurisdiction arising out of Special Leave Petition (Crl) No. 10367 of 2010) (Kailas & Others .. Appellant (s) -versus- State of Maharashtra), the Honorable Court had unequivocally asserted that Scheduled Tribes are indigenous peoples of India.
“Therefore, the law is very clear on this and the Chakma Law Forum has vowed to fight such unjust and discriminatory Rules if they are sought to be brought out or amended and enforced to the detriment of another community in the state,” Dilip Kanti Chakma, president of the forum, said in the statement.
Dilip Kanti in an statement which was also sent to the Chief Secretary of Mizoram, Office of the Chief Minister, The Ministry of Home Affairs, National Commission for Minorities and to the media, has stated that “Any move to facilitate such blatant denial and deprivation of equal opportunities by the state will not only be unfair and unjust but also unconstitutional. Let the government of Mizoram proceed with its plan to bring amendment to the existing rules to exclude the Chakmas from Category-I as demanded by the MZP. We will challenge the validity and constitutionality of such an action”.
He also condemned the unreasonable and unfair demands of the Mizo students body when he said, “Nowhere in the country have we come across such unreasonable demands being made by the majority community to deprive a minority community of equal access to opportunities. It is a blot on the image of the state in a country where respect for the principles of equal rights and equality of opportunities is beautifully enshrined in Article 14 of the India Constitution.