Ruatfela Nu told TOI she was selected by the Union ministry of women and child welfare for the award for her contributions towards welfare of children in Mizoram.
"I was intimated that I would receive the award from President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in Delhi on November 14. I rejected the award, which includes a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, which a large sum of money for a poor woman like me," the state Child Welfare Committee (CWC) member said.
Nu said she declined the award mainly for three reasons — brutal suppression of the 1966 Mizo Uprising, rampant violation of human rights when innocent people were mercilessly gunned down, and a large number of women raped by Indian Army personnel. "I was only six years old at that time. I had personally witnessed how three Indian Army personnel dragged a woman into a house. She was covered with blood stains and her clothes were ripped apart," she said.
She added she was constantly reminded of how the suppression affected the lives of innocent men, women and children. The social worker said she could not accept the award from the President — who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces — because the visions of the people suffering haunted her continually.
The recent decision of the state government to appoint B Sairengpuii, younger sister of Lal Riliani and wife of chief minister Lal Thanhawla, as the commissioner for people with disabilities (PwD) was another reason for her rejecting the award.
Rutfela Nu accused the state government of not only indulging in nepotism, but also ignoring the plight of the disabled people while appointing the retired secretary of the state social welfare department, who, while being the ex-officio assistant commissioner of the PwD, refused to meet the leaders of the Differently Abled Society of Mizoram for 22 times. She said misuse of office and public money by the state government also prompted her to reject the award.
Nu is not only a well-known human rights activist, but also widely known for working to protect the rights of children. Being a member of the Child Welfare Committee, she has helped the police arrest several child rapists and abusers who might have never been brought to book if the CWC did not file complaints with the police.