Arunachal assembly resolution on citizenship to Chakmas, Hajongs kicks up fresh row
Legislators cutting across party lines felt granting citizenship to the communities would alter the state’s demography.india Updated: Oct 20, 2017 13:07 IST
A resolution adopted by the Arunachal Pradesh assembly this week asking Centre to protect rights of tribal population while considering citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs refugees residing in the state for decades has kicked up a fresh row.
After a marathon discussion lasting nearly five hours, the assembly had adopted the resolution moved by parliamentary affairs minister Bamang Felix on Wednesday. Members cutting across party lines felt granting citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs would alter the state’s demography.
Last month, the Centre had decided to grant citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs (original residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh) living in Arunachal Pradesh since the 1960s, as per a 2015 Supreme Court order.
The move led to widespread protests in Arunachal and the state government also wrote to Centre saying it could create problems. This led the Centre to assure that rights of local tribes would be protected.
While speaking on the resolution on Wednesday, chief minister Pema Khandu accused Chakmas and Hajongs of “creating law and order problems” and encroaching upon over 7,000 hectares of forest and government land.
As per official records, 65,851 Chakmas and Hajongs reside in Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts.
Khandu told the assembly that of the 4,367 applications for citizenship, 2,810 were taken up for hearing by the district administrations.
Over 1,500 of them were found to have expired, shifted residence or were absent while none among the other 1,222 were found to satisfy all conditions laid down by the Citizenship Act, 1955.
Chakma and Hajong organisations have deplored the assembly resolution.
“This is nothing but an excuse to contemptuously reject the judgements and directions of the Supreme Court, vitiate the atmosphere of peace, communal harmony and inter-community relationship,” said Subimal Bikash Chakma, president of Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCHAP) in a statement.
Chakma National Council of India, the apex body of Chakmas in India, urged Khandu to follow ‘raj dharma’ while resolving the Chakma-Hajong issue.
In a statement issued on Thursday, CNCI castigated the chief minister for trying to project all Chakmas as criminals.
In Mizoram, following a demand by NGOs in the state, two parties—Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) and Mizoram Peoples’ Conference (MPC)—have decided not to field any Chakma candidates for next year’s assembly polls.
Earlier this week, Young Mizo Association (YMA) adopted a resolution in the youth organisation’s 71st general conference seeking abolition of the Chakma Autonomous District Council (CADC) in Mizoram.
Of the state’s about one lakh Chakma population, 43, 528 reside in CDAC areas.
“By demanding the abolition of CADC, the YMA is communalising the administrative arrangements made for minorities in the state,” Paritosh Chakma, convenor of Mizoram Chakma Areas Single Administration Demand Committee (MCASADC) said in a release.
Mizoram government also came under sharp criticism from various Chakma organisations earlier this year after four students of the community were denied MBBS seats.