The Mizoram Assembly unanimously passing Mizoram Maintenance of Household Registers Bill, 2019, to create a register of all households in the state has made the Chakmas develop cold feet. The chief minister (CM) Zoramthanga said that it had become necessary to pass the bill due to the “unabated influx of foreigners into Mizoram through its porous borders”.
“In many cases, the benefits of development and welfare programmes are found eaten away to a large extent by such foreigners,” reads the bill’s statement of objects and reasons, signed by the CM.
A report quoted the state’s information and public relation minister Lalruatkima as saying, “The main threat of foreigners comes from Bengali Muslims and Buddhist Chakmas.” Christians account for over
87 per cent of Mizoram’s population.
Meanwhile, the bill has made the state’s Chakma population lose sleep. “The bill’s statement of objects and reasons clearly says it seeks to detect foreigners, and in the prism of the Mizos, Chakmas are foreigners. We will be targeted,” said a Chakma activist requesting anonymity.
BD Chakma, a Chakma legislator from the state, tended to agree. The bill, he said, was “very dangerous for the state’s minorities, especially the Chakmas and the Brus”. Chakma said he feared that the state government would be arm-twisted into leaving Chakmas out of the register by Mizo pressure groups. “In 1994, thousands of Chakma voters were left out of electoral rolls under the pressure of student groups,” the BJP legislator alleged. “It is nothing but harassment of Chakmas”.
The register would be a la Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). For the purpose of the register, “every householder”, the bill decrees, would be required to “furnish all information” as “required by the registering authorities”. The information submitted would be “verified and counter-signed by the president of the local branch of the state-level NGOs as may be prescribed by the state government”, the bill states.