Home Ministry directives on CHT affairs
WE have already expressed our alarm through other columns regarding the home ministry order on CHT affairs which, among other things, requires all national-international individuals' and organisations' interaction with the adivasis to be supervised by members of the armed forces, imposes restrictions on foreigners' visit to the CHT and calls for more active check-posts at the entrances of the hill districts.
These orders violate people's freedom of speech, mobility and association, and as such, are in sharp contradiction to our constitutional rights. When no similar rules of surveillance apply to any other group in the rest of the country, the requirement that officials be present for any interaction between adivasis and non-adivasis is undoubtedly discriminatory, ethno-centric and contradictory to the Peace Accord.
The order further dictates that the military will be in charge of overall law and order in the CHT. However, given that in the rest of the country maintenance of the law and order is the mandate of the civil administration, the question arises as to why the CHT is still an exception, 17 years after the Accord was signed and peace established in the region.
Furthermore, the ministry order stipulates that BGB sector/battalion/BOP will be established on acquired lands in the CHT. However, many of these are common adivasi lands, which were acquired without the consent of the district council and through eviction of adivasi communities. This is a violation of the Peace Accord and the amended CHT District Council Act 1998.
We urge the government to immediately withdraw this unconstitutional order. We are of the view that the government, for reasons unknown, is taking decisions contrary to national interest, the consequences of which will only weaken the country instead of strengthening it.