Removal of Chakmas and Hajongs from Arunachal opposed
Itanagar, Aug. 23 (IANS): Various organisations, including the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), on Monday came out against the Arunachal Pradesh government decision to deport 60,000 Chakmas and Hajongs tribals, out of whom 94 per cent are Indian citizens by birth, to other states, and sought the Centre’s intervention.
Assailing Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s August 15 announcement for settling the Chakmas and Hajongs outside the state, CDFI founder Suhas Chakma and its North East Region Director Nilondra Tanya urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat and the Assam and Arunachal Chief Ministers to stop the plan.
Tanya, in his letter to the Centre, said that the Chakmas and Hajongs totally and wholly reject any attempt to create an ethno-centric state by settling them outside the state.
“If Arunachal Pradesh wants to settle the Chakmas and Hajongs in other states, it will be expected to share the population burden of those states as part of India. In fact, more settlement in sparsely populated Arunachal Pradesh will be argued for ensuring territorial integrity of India given China’s threat. Each day, there are incursions from China, there are hardly any people in the borders while the threats from China to the territorial integrity of India are more than before,” he said.
The New Delhi-based CDFI also said that Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju, in various public meetings, stated that the Citizenship Amendment Act of 2019 was enacted to undo the Supreme Court judgment of 1996 granting the Chakmas and Hajongs citizenship and the Chakmas must not in any ‘galat fehmi’ (delusion) and they shall have to leave.
It, however, noted that the Chakmas and Hajongs and ex-Assam Rifles personnel were settled in then centrally-administered North East Frontier Agency from 1964 to 1968 for defence of India following the 1962 India-China war.
Suhas Chakma said, “This is nothing but an act of racial profiling of the Chakmas and Hajongs. This is proven from a number of actions of the state government. Arunachal Pradesh had granted citizenship to the Lisus, and Youbins who had migrated to Arunachal in 1960s enmasse vide notification dated January 18, 1994. This grant of citizenship enmasse to the Lisus is absolutely illegal because under the Citizenship Act of 1955, each applicant has to submit his and her application individually and there is no provision in the Citizenship Act to declare a category of people as ‘citizens’ enmasse.”
He said that Arunachal implements special programmes for the Tibetan refugees but no question is raised. The population of Chakmas and Hajongs which was 14,888 during 1964-69 only increased to 47,471 as per the 2011 census (218 per cent in 47 years) while the population of other non-tribals by 955 per cent during the same period, he said.
“Therefore, targeting of the Chakmas and Hajongs only for settlement outside of Arunachal proves that we are being targeted because of our ethnicity,” he said.
Rejecting Rijiju’s contention that the CAA has overruled the 1996 Supreme Court judgment, Chakma said, “No law applies retroactively and therefore, the CAA which was enacted in December 2019 does not apply to Chakmas and Hajongs of the state as they had migrated during 1964-1968. The Chakmas and Hajongs are governed by the Citizenship Act of 1955 under which they had submitted applications in 1998 but these applications have not been processed by Arunachal Pradesh in clear contempt of the Supreme Court order and violations of the Citizenship Rules.”
He noted that this is not the first attempt to dump the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.