No decision on special census, says Arunachal after opposition from Chakma group

Dec 02, 2021 11:22 PM IST

Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang deputy commissioner Devansh Yadav said there is no decision to conduct a special census of Chakma and Hajong communities in the district and the administration will consult stakeholders before moving ahead

GUWAHATI: An organization of Chakmas has alleged that the Arunachal Pradesh government is going to conduct an exclusive census of Chakma and Hajong communities in the state, complaining that it amounts to racial profiling of the communities and was designed to expel them from the northeastern state.

Delhi-based Chakma Development Foundation of India said the proposed special census of Chakma and Hajong communities amounted to racial profiling. (Photo: Changlang district)
Delhi-based Chakma Development Foundation of India said the proposed special census of Chakma and Hajong communities amounted to racial profiling. (Photo: Changlang district)

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Delhi-based Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene and stop the exercise.

“This exclusive census is an act of racial profiling as only the Chakmas and Hajongs are being singled out. Arunachal Pradesh shares borders with China and Myanmar from where illegal migration of population has been taking place since Independence,” said Suhas Chakma of CDFI in a statement.

“Further illegal immigration and settlement of people without Inner Line Permit has been taking place regularly and their settlements are visible in most parts of Arunachal Pradesh. Yet, the state government is targeting only Chakmas and Hajongs in clear violations of the Constitution of India,” he added.

Authorities at Changlang district in southeastern Arunachal Pradesh, where this census is supposed to take place, have, however, said that there is no immediate plan for such an exercise and the issue is just at a proposal stage.

“The move is just at a proposal stage now and nothing has materialised yet. An unnecessary controversy is being created. Before starting any such exercise, we will take all stakeholders into confidence,” Devansh Yadav, deputy commissioner of Changlang, said.

“Similar exercises have happened in 2010 and 2015 as well. While local Chakma and Hajong groups don’t seem to have any issue, organisations based outside Arunachal Pradesh seem more bothered. As of now, no census will take place in December and in the near future,” he added.

On November 26, Changlang district issued a letter to officials at Miao, Bordumsa, Kharsang and Diyun circles of the district for a “special census” to be conducted in all the Chakma and Hajong inhabited areas of Arunachal Pradesh.

The letter reportedly asked officials in the four circles to finalise names of supervisors and enumerators by December 10 so that survey work can be completed by December 20 and the census report submitted to the state government on or before December 31.

Chakmas and Hajongs, who are Buddhists and Hindus respectively, 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.

The migrants were settled with a rehabilitation plan, allotted 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.

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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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