Buddha Dhan Chakma, the lone legislator and minister from the Chakma community in Mizoram put in his papers on Monday accusing the Congress government of Lal Thanhawla of discrimination against four Chakma candidates who had found place in a merit list for the state quota to study MBBS in different medical colleges of the country. Chakma, minister of state for sericulture and fisheries in the Lal Thanhawla government, in his resignation letter to the chief minister complained that while four Chakma candidates were selected among 28 candidates for the state’s MBBS quota, the four were subsequently denied the state quota on the alleged plea that they did not belong to the “Zo-ethnic” communities of the state.
“While four Chakma candidates hailing from the state had cleared the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) 2017 for MBBS from Mizoram quota and were even called for counselling on July 20, the entire counselling process was cancelled later the same day. Six days later, higher and technical education Robert Romawia said at a press conference that the state’s MBBS quota was reserved exclusively for the Zo-ethnic people of Mizoram. It is a clear denial of MBBS seats to those four meritorious Chakma students,” minister Chakma, in his letter to the chief minister on Monday said.
Chakma, himself an MBBS under state quota in 1994 from Gaya (Bihar), in his resignation letter said he was not ready at accept this “denial” of MBBS quota to the Chakma students who were domicile of the state. “This is gross injustice. The four candidates are from Chakma families who are domicile and permanent residents of Mizoram. How can I continue to be a minister in the government that does look at people with equality irrespective of caste, creed and religion?” Chakma, speaking to The Indian Express from Aizwal, asked.
Chakma said there was a “systematic conspiracy” to deny various facilities to the Chakmas who belong to the state for the last few years. “They tried to do it in 2016 too. But the selected candidates went to the High Court and got justice. This time round, it is a clear case of contempt of court. I am asking the candidates to go back to the High Court,” Chakma said.
He also said that the denial of state MBBS quota to the four Chakma candidates even after their names were released for counselling came about after the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), the state’s apex students’ body strongly opposed it. “The Chakmas are the second largest tribal community in Mizoram. Our population according to the 2011 Census is about 90,000. This is not fair. I will fight for it,” Chakma said.
Meanwhile, Robert Romawia, Mizoram minister for higher and technical education said there was still “scope” for providing allotment to the four Chakma candidates. “It is a fact that the Chakmas do not fall under Category 1, which constitutes of Zo-ethnic communities of the state. They fall under Category 2, alongside the Gorkhas and Brus who are permanent residents of the state. I think there is still scope for accommodating them through discussions,” minister Romawia told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the All India Chakma Students’ Union (AICSU) has called the denial as an assault on the Constitution of India.
“The Chakmas are scheduled tribes just like Mizos under the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order of 1950. There is no ground whatsoever among the STs. The demand of some Mizo NGOs to reserve all MBBS seats for Mizos only and to deny any medical seat to the NEET qualified Chakmas is antithetical to the Constitution of India. Likewise, the action of the Mizoram students to act against the Chakma students on the basis of ethnicity is a direct assault on the Indian Constitution and the idea of India,” Dilip Kanri Chakma, president of the AICSU said.