The Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union (APCSU) has termed “unfortunate” the demand of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) to exclude the infected Chakmas from the state’s Covid-19 tally.
The APCSU in a statement on Tuesday said the demand of the AAPSU “is like adding salt to wounds of the migrant Chakmas who were forced to return home from various cities due to loss of jobs following the countrywide lockdown.”
The AAPSU had on Friday said the Covid-19 positive cases of Changlang district, particularly those from the Chakma community cannot be included in the state’s Covid tally.
The union had asked the state government to talk to the Center regarding this while suggesting that cases from the community could be put in the ‘refugee’ list.
The AAPSU had, however, said the Chakmas infected with Covid-19 have every right to avail facilities in regards to healthcare and essentials items.
Appealing the AAPSU not to create communal division on Covid-19 patients in the state, APCSU President Sonjit Chakma said: “Nobody wants to get infected with this virus. Unfortunately, some of the returnees infected the disease most probably during transition. The patients need care and not segregation based on their ethnicity.”
Sonjit said “everyone including the student bodies, community based organizations and NGOs should divert their energy in one direction and help the state government fight the pandemic.”
The Chakma students’ body has at the same time extended its support AAPSU’s demand made to the state government in regards to ensuring that testing kits and equipment are made available in the state.
With 37 cases until Monday, Changlang has recorded the highest number of positive cases in the state.
Arunachal at present has 55 active cases.
Meanwhile, responding to APCSU’s statement, AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said the “Chakmas are temporarily settled refugees in the state and no circumstance or situation can change that.”
“We are only asking the state government not to incorporate the list of Covid-19 infected Chakmas with the indigenous tribes of the state. A separate list should be prepared for them,” Dai said.
Dai reiterated that the AAPSU does not object to anyone availing medical facilities in the state and rather has requested the government to provide the same to all the ailing people, irrespective of them being temporarily settled refugees or indigenous people of the state.
We are objecting to their inclusion in the state’s Covid-19 tally because going by the past experiences, even small and momentary paperwork are used against us in the long run by them (Chakmas) for legal matters, Dai said.