Chakma groups reject proposed relocation move from Arunachal Pradesh, write to PM Modi

Aug 23, 2021 11:18 PM IST

Chakma and Hajong groups have rejected a purported move by the Arunachal Pradesh government to relocate them to another state, officials said

Chakma and Hajong groups have rejected a purported move by the Arunachal Pradesh government to relocate them to another state, officials said.

File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)
File photo: Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (PTI)

Chakmas and Hajongs, who are Buddhists and Hindus, migrated to India between 1964 and 1966 from Chittagong Hills Tract (CHT) of then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to escape religious persecution and were settled in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), present Arunachal Pradesh.

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The migrants were settled with a rehabilitation plan and allotted permanent land and provided with financial assistance depending on the size of their families to help rebuild their lives. As per the 2011 census, there are 47,471 Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh.

On Monday, Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Amit Shah, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat and chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, Pema Khandu and Himanta Biswa Sarma respectively, opposing the move.

The letter mentioned that in his Independence Day speech, Khandu had mentioned that Chakmas and Hajongs will be settled outside Arunachal. It added that Union law minister Kiren Rijiju (who is from Arunachal) has also stated in public meetings that members of both communities will have to leave the state.

“This has disturbed communal harmony, created enmity against the Chakmas and Hajongs, and also fear in the minds of Chakmas and Hajongs as to whether there is rule of law in this country or not,” the letter said.

Alleging racial profiling and discrimination, it added that despite two Supreme Court orders in 1996 and 2015, not a single one of the nearly 15,000 Chakmas/Hajongs who migrated in 1964 have been granted Indian citizenship. It mentioned that descendants of those migrants who are citizens of India by birth have not been included in voter lists in Arunachal.

“Chakmas and Hajongs totally and wholly reject any attempt to settle them outside the state,” the letter stated. It mentioned that there is a likelihood of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal getting relocated to Assam.

In a press release issued on Monday, Chakma Rights and Development Organisation (CRDO) also opposed the relocation move and instead asked the Centre to create a separate Union territory for Chakmas and Hajongs in the areas of Arunachal where they are settled at present.

“It hurts us badly when after 57 years of rehabilitation we are branded as ‘refugees’ by none other than the CM himself. We were ‘refugees’ at one point, long ago before the resettlement in NEFA but are like any other citizens of the country now,” the release said.

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    Utpal is a Senior Assistant Editor based in Guwahati. He covers seven states of North-East India and heads the editorial team for the region. He was previously based in Kathmandu, Dehradun and Delhi with Hindustan Times.

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