chapter  9
17 Pages

Accusations and belonging in the southwestern borderland of Mizoram

WithN. William Singh

Chakma families, who have been living at Tuichawngchhuah for over three decades with government facilities including a middle school, assistance under the New Land Use Policy (NLUP), ration card, voter card and electricity, were threatened with being evicted from their houses by the Mizoram Students Union. The student body felt suspicious that the Chakma Autonomous District Council had been doing favours to protect illegal migrants by evading procedures, i.e. proper screening under the law, so as to obtain ration cards, driving licenses, Aadhar cards and electoral cards.

This chapter examines the life-world of minorities in this south-western borderland of Mizoram. The residents are considered suspicious outsiders and illegal infiltrators. It focuses on the ongoing suspicion and accusations between the minority Chakmas and the dominant Mizo society in this porous borderland. For the last six decades, individuals from the minorities are treated with suspicion, accused as illegal infiltrators and non-indigenous. The chapter recounts the past and present of the Chakmas in Mizoram. It explores the previous writings on Chakmas, existing laws and recognition under the Sixth schedule, analyzes the recommendations of the Rajya Sabha (upper house of the Indian Parliament), Committee on Petitions (1997) and the memorandums submitted by civil society organizations to the higher authority. It also reflects on the depth of political participation of the minorities. It brings in newer perspectives on the life-world and ethno-identity discourse, by considering the life-world of the community through ethnographic fieldwork and by examining the various narratives gathered during the course of that fieldwork. Fresh views and opinions from elders of both the communities - Mizo and Chakma - are also blended in, so as to give an account of everyday life of the community at the borderland.