Haliyeh: Helping a fellow villager

Each society has a way to help one another in farming. Chakma of Deban area have their own style.

They call it Maliyeh or Haori in local Assamese.

This is one whole day help in another person’s work (clearing jungles, weeding, harvest etc). In return the host will help those who helped him.

Once a person realized the work to be done will take a lot of time and he does not not have that amount of time. He will call for a Maliyeh.

He will fix a date. And will go around to seek help from other villagers, one day ahead of the Maliyeh. This invitation is called Sajokorich. (Daily wage earners are not called for this day.)

According to the nature of work, the host will invite men or women. For clearing jungle, only men will come. But anyone can come for weeding or harvest.

On the appointed day, the work begins early in the morning, at 6 or 7 am after breakfast at their own homes. The work will go on till 9 or 10 am. Then they break for a simple lunch the host has organized. The work will resume after lunch till 4 pm.

Then they will go home, take bath and dress well for the dinner.

The evening dinner is called Maliyeh bhat. Meat and good curries are provided. One person can bring one more person to join the party.

Last week when we visited a village, the person’s wife went to a Haliyeh event. She left quite early morning and then came back at lunch to her home. She dried her chillies. Then she went back again after that. In the evening her husband and two young kids went along. They said the host provided mutton, fish and lots of vegetables. Local liquor is an essential event.

It looks like this is a social event and a time of get together rather than business.


The Dilemma of Chakma People in Arunachal Pradesh

Taking refuge in the State since the 1960s, the Chakma people are nowhere.

Originally, the tribe came in as refugees. And then in 1972, the Central Government decided to grant Indian Citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Citizenship Act. The then Arunachal Government opposed the decision and continues to this day. Later the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) came into forefront of this opposition.

Here is the problem: The Central Government wants to grant Indian Citizenship to the Chakma residing in Arunachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court’s order on 17 September 2015 favoured into giving citizenship to them. But the AAPSU and Arunachal Government have their own point. They say grant them citizenship but do not settle in Arunachal. That’s quite another perspective.

What would happen after the Supreme Court’s judgment? The Union Government and Apex Court are in favour but Arunachal is not. Between the turf of war between the Center and State, people are the worst affected. Unless there are proactive steps to solve the citizenship issue at the governmental level, there is little hope people can expect.

Good articles on their issue:

Stateless people: Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh

Why Chakmas and Hajongs are India’s nowhere people

Chakma Issue Roils Arunachal as Supreme Court Decrees End to Their Statelessness




The Settlements of the Chakma people in Arunachal


Photo: Chakma young kids (Courtesy: NEI People).

Well known to most people the Chakma are one of the largest displaced communities in the north east India. Coming in from Bangladesh in the 1960s, they are now in Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. Perhaps, Arunachal Pradesh is where this community faced most oppositions and atrocities. In other states, they have received government support.

The Chakma of Arunachal are found in three settlements: Papumpare, Lohit and Changlang Districts. Highest number is in Changlang District. For details,

District Circle Village
Papumpare Balijan Chakma I to X
Lohit Chowkham Chakma I to III
Changlang Miao M’pen (3, 4, 6, 7, 8 Miles), Punyabhumi, Devapuri, Brajapur, Nandakanan, Kamlapuri, Deban I to III, Dharmapur
  Diyun Motripur I,Gautampur II, Shantipur III, Joytipur IV, Oboypur V, Dhompani VI, Dhompator, Udaipur, Joshnapur
  Bordomsa Bijoypur I to III
  Kharsang Milanpur, Gorokhpur, Rathnapur


To give a graphic description of the settlements in Changlang district: The villages stretch along the banks of the Noa Dihing river from Kharsang to Innao to Deban. Approximately, about 40 km from Kharsang/Innao to Deban. The area is larger between Kharsang to Innao (about 15 to 20 km) and then reduces to about one KM in Deban.

Due to the proximately to the river, the villages face huge problem during flood seasons. Paddy fields of several families are eroded each year. Moreover, there are no bridges over the River between the villages. Only local made wooden boats are operated that is risky for lives during flood seasons.

Moreover, the road connectivity in all the settlements, except for Diyun area, is in bad condition. The villages under Bijoypur and Dharmapur are surrounded in all sides by the river. Getting in and out of these villages are only by boats in rainy season. The villages in Deban are cut off by landslides most of the year. M’pen villages too are dependent on the mercy of the Pagla nadi (at 6th Mile).

This is the plight of a large chunk of the population of Chakma in Arunachal as given below (Census 2001).

District Total Population ST Population Chakma & Hajong Pop
Changlang 125,422 45,351 59,060
Lohit 125,086 40,552 4,406
Papumpare 122,033 69,007 1,534
Total 65,000


Chakma Words

Below are a few words I wrote down in my notebook. They are the Chakma language spoken in Deban area of Changlang District.

1. bekone echi We came together
2. gaigai echi I came alone
3. undur rat
4. ranimilei widow
5. ranamorat widower
6. nomonchok transgender
7. kaini meaning
8. rongalao pumkin
9. itche today
10. hilliya tomorrow, yesterday
11. porso day after tomorrow
12. torso day after porso
13. hongelo crab
14. pohor day
15. zon moon
  Spoken to bullocks while ploughing  
16. titi go right
17. ere go left
18. bowbow turn
19. boow stop