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The All India Chakma Social Forum (AICSF), issuing a statement to media on Thursday said they vehemently opposed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

“The bill has become an instrument to vilify the Chakma community as foreigners and beneficiaries of the CAB,” the statement said.

“The Chakmas are the citizens of India and was notified as Scheduled Tribes by the President of India in 1950 in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal,” the statement added.

AICSF secretary-general Paritosh Chakma said, “There were 2.2 lakh Chakmas in India as per 2011 census, of which 96,972 Chakmas are in Mizoram, 79,813 in Tripura and 2,032 are in Assam.”

He further informed that Chakmas have been living in the Western Belt of Mizoram since time immemorial.

“In 1898, a portion of then Chittagong Hill Tracts covering the current Western belt of Mizoram inhabited by the Chakmas was included into the Lushai Hills for administrative purposes,” he said.

“The Chakmas were accorded the Chakma Autonomous District Council under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in 1972,” he added.

“There is not a single Chakma foreigner residing in Mizoram as per the statement of R Lalzirliana, the then home minister, at the Assembly on November 15, 2017,” the AICSF secretary reiterated.

Adding further he said, “There are over 100,000 Myanmarese Chin refugees in Mizoram, of which 4,000 have been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in New Delhi.”

Santosh Chakma, General Secretary of the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh said, “There is a vested interest to vilify the Chakmas in the Northeast.”

“Since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 whenever Chakmas sought refuge in India, they were always housed in camps in Tripura,” he added.

He further added that Chakmas were also repatriated to Bangladesh with the last repatriation taking place in 1998 following the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord of 1997.

“The Chakmas are the only group of refugees in India who have always been kept in camps and repatriated to Bangladesh,” he said.

“Meanwhile, all other refugees- Tibetans, Sri Lankan Tamils, Myanmarese Chins and Myanmarese Rohingyas- have never been repatriated to their country of origin,” he added.

“The time has come for many community organizations in the Northeast to stop xenophobia against the Chakmas as foreigners in the Northeast,” said Paritosh Chakma.

“The entire Chakma population in the world is about 5.5 lakhs including 3 lakhs in Bangladesh, 2.2 lakhs in India and 30,000 in Myanmar,” he said.

“The Chakmas do not pose any threat to any community and the Chakmas are fighting for their rights wherever they are residing,” he added.

“However, xenophobia against the Chakmas has reached such an insane level that Chakmas whose population in Assam was 2,032 as per 2011 census are targeted by a few local NGOs as a threat to over 3 crore population of Assam,” he reiterated.

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