As many as five Chakma-Hajong bodies have come together to ‘reject’ the proposed deportation of over 60,000 Chakmas and Hajongs to other states. 

“We totally reject any idea or suggestion or proposal to relocate the Chakmas and Hajongs outside the State of Arunachal Pradesh,” a joint statement from the five Chakma-Hajong bodies read. 

The joint statement was issued by: Subimal Bikash Chakma – President of Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakmas & Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCHAP), Mahendra Chakma – President of Chakma Rights & Development Organisation (CRDO), Drishya Muni Chakma – President of Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union (APCSU), Maya Devi Chakma – President of Chakma Women Welfare Society (CWWS) and Rakesh Chakma – President of Chakma Youth Federation of Arunachal (CYFA). 

JOINT STATEMENT OF THE CHAKMA COMMUNITY ORGANISATIONS OF ARUNACHAL PRADESH 

“We, the five major Chakma & Hajong Community Based Organizations (CBOs) namely the Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCHAP), Chakma Rights & Development Organisation (CRDO), Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union (APCSU), Chakma Youth Federation of Arunachal (CYFA) and the Chakma Women Welfare Society (CWWS), having met on 23 August 2021 and discussed the recent serious developments with respect to the future of the two communities in Arunachal Pradesh have reached the following conclusions and decisions, for and on behalf of the Chakma and Hajong communities of the State of Arunachal Pradesh. 

Firstly, the Chakmas and the Hajongs take pride in Shri Kiren Rijiju ji for being elevated to the rank of Union Minister for Law and Justice in the Government of India led by Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi ji. Indeed, Shri Rijiju is the pride of entire North-eastern region and those who belong to the North-eastern region. We also pay our outmost respect to our beloved Chief Minister Hon’ble Shri Pema Khandu ji who has time and again expressed compassion towards the members of the Chakma and Hajong communities and expressed his desire to see socio-economic development and educational advancement of these two communities.  

Having said this, we have taken strong note of the Independence Day speech (15th August 2021) of our beloved Chief Minister Shri Pema Khandu ji wherein he stated that his Government is in active discussion with the Government of India for shifting of the alleged “illegal migrants” among the Chakmas out of Arunachal Pradesh and that Chakmas cannot be allowed to stay in the state because they are non-tribals. 

We have also taken strong note of the subsequent statements made by our beloved Union Law Minister Shri Rijiju on different occasions including in public gatherings and TV interviews that Chakma and Hajong communities will be shifted out of Arunachal Pradesh in consultation with the Central Government. Shri Rijiju also made a stunning claim that during the meeting held on 20th February 2020 at Itanagar (Arunachal Day) in the presence of Shri Amit Shah ji, Hon’ble Union Home Minister, message was passed to the delegates of Chakma-Hajong that they would be shifted out of the State of Arunachal Pradesh. He further claimed that the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 (CAA) by the Central Government has annulled the judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of 1996 and 2015 which were in favour of granting citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong migrants who had migrated during 1964-69. 

CLARIFICATIONS 

Therefore, through this joint statement, the Chakma CBOs would like to clarify the following facts: 

  1. It is clarified that the delegates of Chakma and Hajong communities had attended ahigh levelmeeting on 20th February 2020 at Itanagar in which Shri Amit Shah Ji, Union Minister for Home Affairs, Shri Kiren Rijiju, now Union Minister of Law and Justice, Shri Jitendra Prasad Singh, then Minister for DONER, Shri Pema Khandu, Chief Minister of A.P, Shri Chowna Mein, Dy. CM, Shri Hemanta Biswa Sarma, present Chief Minister of Assam were presence. In that meeting, the issue of shifting or relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs from Arunachal Pradesh was never discussed. In fact, the entire discussion was focused on finding permanent and amicable solution to the Chakma-Hajong issue within the territory of Arunachal Pradesh. Hence, the claims made by Shri Rijiju ji is totally incorrect and bogus. 
  2. The CAA does not apply in the State of Arunachal Pradesh and especially to the Chakma and Hajong communities as the CAA is meant to recognise the illegal migrants who came to India as on 31.12.2014. Since theChakmasand Hajongs had been legally settled by the Government of India in consultation with the local authorities during 1964-69, the CAA is not applicable to them, either positively or negatively. Further no law in India, including the CAA applies retrospectively. 
  3. About 90% ofChakmasand Hajongs are citizens of India by birth under section 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1955. 
  4. There is not a single Chakma or Hajong who are illegally settled in the State of Arunachal Pradesh as per our best knowledge. It is ridiculous to suggest thatChakmasfrom other states of Northeast India or elsewhere where they are recognized as Scheduled Tribes will migrate to Arunachal Pradesh where Chakmas do not get any facility from the government. 

DEMANDS OF CHAKMAS AND HAJONGS 

The Chakma CBOs who are signatories of this joint statement and the real representatives of the Chakma and Hajong communities of Arunachal Pradesh, demand the following: 

  1. We totally reject any idea or suggestion or proposal to relocate theChakmasand Hajongs outside the State of Arunachal Pradesh and strongly demand the unconditional withdrawal of statements made in this regard which have caused enormous fear and insecurity in the minds of the Chakmas and Hajongs. 
  2. Instead of relocation elsewhere, we demand that the long-standing Chakma-Hajong issue be fully and permanently resolved at the earliest by providing full rights as Indian Citizens in the state of Arunachal Pradesh and by providing additional guarantees within the Constitutional and legal framework of India;
  3. We demand that the Government of India, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and constitutional authorities such as the state Chief Minister and the Law Minister of India should abide by the Constitution particularly Article 14 (Equality before law) and Article 15 (Prohibition of discrimination by the State on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth) while dealing with the situation of the Chakma and Hajongs with compassion and sensitivity.
  4. We demand that the Government of Arunachal Pradesh restore all the rights and privileges to the two communities (Chakma and Hajong) which they had enjoyed earlier such as government jobs, ration cards,panchayatiraj rights, etc. until arbitrarily and illegally taken away by the State Government since 1980. 
  5. We demand that the Government of India and the Government of Arunachal Pradesh fully respect and implement the rulings of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the NHRC vs State of Arunachal Pradesh & Others wherein direction was issued for processing of citizenship applications of theChakmasand Hajongs which so far the State government as well as the Union Government failed to comply. This remains a blot in Indian Democracy. 
  6. We demand enrolment of all eligibleChakmasand Hajongs in the Voter List without discrimination.  
  7. We demand that all economic and social welfare programmes of the Government of India and State government, including Ration Card, MGNREGS, PMAY, PM Kishan, Development schemes for minorities, Scholarships etc, be extended to the people of Chakma and Hajong communities across the state without any discrimination;
  8. Finally, we call upon the State government of Arunachal Pradesh to create conducive environment for the development of theChakmasand Hajongs who wish to live peacefully with other communities with mutual respect and dignity and contribute to the overall progress of the state as responsible citizens of this great nation.”

Laxman Sharma

Laxman Sharma is Northeast Now Correspondent in Digboi. He can be reached at: laxmansharma.press@gmail.com