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Buddhist Chakmas under threat of proselytisation

by Jyoti Lal Chowdhury, Organiser, Sept 28, 2008

SILCHAR, India -- Subtle moves are on for conversion of Buddhist Chakmas in certain areas of Mizoram and Tripura and also to take away their land for construction of churches. “These kinds of activities have been going on for sometime,” alleged Shri Basant Kumar Chakma.

Kantalang is a Chakma dominated village in the Phailo subdivision of Mammit district of Mizoram, bordering Tripura. Peace loving Buddhists of the village are gripped with panic due to missionaries’ interference with the backing of the state.

Shri Basant Kumar further said, “Three months ago, a Mizo missionary came to their village from Phailo and demanded land for the construction of a church. No villager agreed to part with land. The Mizo youth sought and got administrative help and held out open threat if land was not given, he would see that no government benefit or financial assistance under various centrally sponsored schemes and projects reached them. The sub-divisional magistrate of Phailo sent a written order to the village headman, Prabhat Kumar Chakma, to allot land for the purpose.

The order of the sub-divisional magistrate was followed by the entry of members of Presbyterian church in the village. Necessary preparation was being made to begin construction of church. Shri Basant Chakma further alleged that as a tactical move, a Bangladeshi from across the border was brought and engaged in construction work. The land in question was earmarked for a school for Chakma boys and girls.

Chakma Women’s Organisation and Young Chakma Association joined together to resist the design of missionaries. Shri Basant Chakma was all praise for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and BSF which helped them during their crisis. Though the construction of the church at the moment has been held up, Chakmas are apprehensive that peace and harmony might be disturbed.

In another related development, Ramapada Jamatiya who came down here from Tripura said a Buddhist Academy at Manu Bankal Sabroom was set ablaze by miscreants recently. In fact, as he pointed out, Dhampa Dipa International Buddhist Academy with three residential Viharas sheltering 180 Buddhist monks and devotees who used to reside, study and practice dhamma, was in flames in mysterious circumstances.

It is suspected that someone or the other might have caused the fire from outside as such threat perception has been looming large from the very inception.

Shri Jamatiya said it was most unfortunate that Buddhism has been under attack in different parts of northeast. Neither the local administration nor any state official cared to visit Sabroom to see for themselves the Buddhist Academy in ruins. He revealed that a representation from Bahujan Hitaya Education Trust of Sabroom to Governor of Tripura on August 25 seeking his intervention and action failed to evoke any response.

The Education Trust reiterated that the Governor of Tripura should visit the ruined site of Buddhist Academy and direct the state administration to provide adequate security to the institution. The Trust at the same time demanded financial assistance to reconstruct the Buddhist Academy, identification of culprits behind the crime and their trial as well as punishment and all necessary protective measures in order to pre-empt such incident in future.



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