Chakma Refugees Pushed Back from Mizoram, India

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Chakma Refugees

This elderly Chakma woman being moved to safety from the marauding Bangladesh military and the Bangladeshi settlers.

On 25th January 1986, an Indian Army Brigadier, a Major, a Captain with the Deputy Commissioner of Lunglei, along with a Superintendent of Police came to the refugee camp at Tagolok Bak, Mizoram, India. There were over 300 Army, BSF (Border Security Force), CRP (Central Reserve Police) and MRP (Mizo Ram Police) in strength and many Mizos who were present there. The Indian Army Brigadier held a meeting with the leaders of the Chakma refugees at the refugee camp. At first the Indian Army Brigadier made a speech in Hindi language which the Chakma refugee leaders could not understand. Then the Captain interpreted his speech in the Bengali language as follows: "You know that in the last SAARC conference held in Dhaka, there was a talk between Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Bangladesh President Ershad about your repatriation. On the basis of their talks, you will be handed over to the Bangladesh Army on 29th January, 1986 and you will have to go. You should not feel sorry for this. Rather should you be grateful to India for giving you shelter, security and ration for the last 19 months." After his speech the Chakma refugee leaders became panicky and prayed for permission to talk with the Indian Brigadier about their problems. But the Brigadier outrightly said: "You have not the right to speak a word".

Then after the Brigadier's speech, the Deputy Commissioner of Lunglei on behalf of the Mizoram government spoke to the refugee leaders in broken Bengali in this manner: "You are shameless. Don't you know that this is Mizoram, this is not your country. You can't stay here. You should be ashamed of yourself. Do you know what is the meaning of push back? You are going to be pushed back by any means".

Then refugee leaders tried to explain that they did not come here to stay. They would return to their homeland if their demands were fulfilled by Bangladesh. At that moment the Deputy Commissioner threateningly shouted and ordered the refugee leaders to go out.

After the Brigadier left the refugee camps, curfew orders were announced through loudspeakers throughout the refugee camps for indefinite period and no one was allowed to come out of the camps.

On the 29th January, 1986 during the early hours of the morning, before the Sunrise, all the refugee camps were surrounded and the refugees were bodily searched by the MRPs and the CRPs. At 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning the BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) party arrived in a motor launch on the western side of Tagolok Bak across the Karnafully river and took up positions at a nearby garden. Then another motor launch slowly proceeded towards the refugee camps' wharf. The Mizo Police Superintendent gave order to the refugees to remain in the camps and not to come till further instructions. The MRPs have already rounded up the refugee camps. Then the first batch of 51 families of Chakma refugees were gathered from the camps and taken to school premises from where they were being taken towards the BDR motor launch, But the refugees realising their fate, started shouting loudly: "We don't want to be handed over to the BDR, we are afraid of them. They will kill us!". At this moment, the MRPs swooped down upon refugees, young and old, men, women and children were all beaten up indiscriminately and force was used to make them board the BDR motor launch. The refugee men tried to save their women and children from beatings by the MRPs, But the MRP became more furious and indiscriminate beating continued with more ferocity. As the refugees were crying for help to save them from the MRPs, refugees from other camps went to their rescue, They tried to make the MRPs understand and not to be so cruel. But the MRPs including the CRPs giving a deaf ear to their appeal, fell upon these helpless refugees just like tigers. The Mizo SP (Superintendent of Police), through a loudspeaker, gave order to shoot the refugees, and the Mizos who were also present with their catapults with marbles, threw stones at these pitiful refugees. The refugees became panicky at this hostile treatment by the Mizo people, MRPs and CRPs. They tried to run away for life. But by that time all the refugee camps were rounded up by the Indian Army and BSF personnel. They caught the fleeing refugees and handed them over one by one to the cruel hands of the MRPs and CRPs. The MRPs and CRPs tied the refugees on the necks and waists with ropes and pulled them as if they were not human beings and then handed them over to the BDR who received them with such happiness that while counting them in the motor launch they picked each one for each number.

While these refugees were being taken to an unknown place in Barkal area, they were subjected to physical tortures, young girls and women were raped. The BDR personnel picked the refugees left and right when they were disembarked from the motor launch. The plight of these Chakma refugees seems to be precarious as the Bangladesh Governments policy of extermination of the tribal people continues unabated.


  1. Jana Samhati Samiti