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Citizenship for Chakma, Hajong sparks off furore

Published : Sep 14, 2017, 2:42 am IST
Updated : Sep 14, 2017, 3:06 am IST

There are now more than three lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Photo: PTI)
 Home Minister Rajnath Singh (Photo: PTI)

Guwahati: The home ministry’s decision to grant citizenship to nearly one lakh Chakma and Hajong may create unrest in the frontier state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Hawa Bagang, president of the All-Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, which is spearheading the agitation against Chakma-Hajong refugees, said any move to impose the burden of Chakma and Hajong refugees on Arunachal will be met with resistance. “The home ministry should try to understand the sentiment of Arunachali people before taking any decision on this issue,” Mr Bagang said.

“We have no problem if government of India grants citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees but before doing it, home ministry should take them out of Arunachal Pradesh and give settlement in the state where they intend to give settlement,” he said.

He said that anger among the people is such that youth may take to arms to resist the move of giving citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees in the frontier state. He said, “Arunachal Pradesh has been accorded special constitutional status and rights of indigenous people has been protected by Inner-Line Permit. Any move to grant them citizenship without removing them from the state would infringe upon the existing constitutional provision.”

There are now more than three lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh. Though migration started five decades ago from the erstwhile East Pakistan when about 56 families first migrated to the state in 1966 but it continued even now and their population has grown to three lakh.

Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the erstwhile East Pakistan. They left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.

The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and the Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram).

The Centre moved the majority of them to the Northeast Frontier Agency, which is now Arunachal Pradesh.

The Chakma and hajong don’t have citizenship and land rights but are provided basic amenities by the state government.

The angry reaction from AAPSU came on Wednesday after a high-level meeting convened by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and attended by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval among others in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Tags: hajong refugees, chakma refugees, hawa bagang