CHAKMAS AND HAJONG: CITIZEN OR STILL REFUGEES?
Terming the Supreme Court's 2015 order to grant citizenship to around 1 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees living in Arunachal Pradesh as "unimplementable", union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday that government will appeal to the apex court to modify it.
WHO ARE THEY-
- Chakmas and Hajong were originally inhabitants of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) who were systematically forced out of that country. First they were displaced from their original homesteads because of the Kaptai hydroelectric dam on the Karnaphuli river in the early 1960s, and there was no rehabilitation and compensation. Later, they became victims of religious persecution in East Pakistan, and fled to India.
- Granting citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh will reduce the state's indigenous tribes to a hopeless minority.
- The chief minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu, where most of the refugees live, has said such a move would change the demographics of the state which has a predominantly tribal population with special rights including over land.
- The decision to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong also comes as India is under fire for its plan to deport some 40,000 Rohingya Muslims who face persecution in Myanmar.
- The Centre decided to grant ‘limited citizenship’ to the Chakmas and Hajongs a few days ago. The two communities will not get land rights or be recognised as a Scheduled Tribe in Arunachal Pradesh so that the rights of the indigenous people are not diluted.
- While the Chakmas are Buddhists, the Hajongs are Hindus.
OUTCOME OF THE DECISION
- Arunachal Pradesh shut down on Tuesday to protest the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees , settled in the state after their displacement from present-day Bangladesh in the 1960s.
- Almost all tribal organisations and NGOs backed the 12-hour dawn-to-dusk shutdown that the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) had called against the move to grant limited citizenship to the refugees.
- All parties in the state are unanimous in the view that granting citizenship to the Chakmas would seriously affect the demographic structure of the state where most of the tribes are less in number in comparison to the growing Chakma population.