The Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) in a letter to Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu stated that an exclusive census only the Chakmas and Hajongs under the ultimatum of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) shall be in contempt of Supreme Court. 

The Chakma body urged the Arunachal Pradesh government to respect the “absolution prohibition” imposed by the apex court against eviction or removal of any Chakmas and Hajong before deciding his/her citizenship application in letter and spirit.  

Notably, on December 18, the AAPSU gave a 15-day ultimatum to the Arunachal government to conduct the “illegal census” of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state “to throw them out of the state”. 

“The deputy commissioner of Changlang district Devensh Yadav on record clarified twice that there was no special census of the Chakmas and Hajongs. If the same census is now conducted under the pressure of the AAPSU ultimatum, it shall constitute the contempt of the 1996 Supreme Court judgment in NHRC vs State of Arunachal Pradesh,” CDFI’s Suhas Chakma said. 

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“What the State government and the AAPSU cannot do directly i.e. conduct the illegal census in violation of the 1996 judgment cannot be done indirectly by giving an ultimatum to the State Government,” Chakma added. 

The Supreme Court in its judgment dated January 9, 1996 stated that “the State of Arunachal Pradesh, shall ensure that the life and personal liberty of each and every Chakma residing within the State shall be protected and any attempt to forcibly evict or drive them out of the State by organised groups, such as the AAPSU, shall be repelled, if necessary, by requisitioning the service of para-military or police force as is necessary to protect the lives and liberty of the Chakmas”.  

The CDFI also reminded the Arunachal Pradesh government and the AAPSU about the absolute prohibition imposed by the Supreme Court against any eviction or removal before adjudication of the citizenship applications of the Chakmas and Hajongs.  

The Supreme Court in its order no 5 stated, “while the (citizenship) application of any individual Chakma is pending consideration, the first respondent (Arunachal Pradesh) shall not evict or remove the concerned person from his occupation on the ground that he is not a citizen of India until the competent authority has taken a decision in that behalf.” 

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“The judgment uses the word, ‘SHALL’, and there is no ambiguity about the absolute prohibition against removal of the Chakmas and Hajongs before consideration of their citizenship applications. For the last 25 years, the State of Arunachal Pradesh has not processed a single citizenship application of the Chakmas and Hajongs because they fulfil all the criteria to be citizens and the State has been purposely delaying the same. Until each and every application is decided, neither the State of Arunachal Pradesh nor the Union of India has any power to evict or remove any Chakma/Hajong out of the State including by conducting illegal census. The illegal census is akin to putting the cart before the horse,” Suhas Chakma further said. 

“About 90% of the Chakmas and Hajongs are today citizens of India by birth and have been voting in the Assembly and parliamentary elections. To make the Chakmas and Hajongs who are citizens stand in the queue for the illegal census while all other citizens in Arunachal Pradesh enjoy this harassment is not an administrative task but an act of racial profiling and threats to the life and liberty of each and every Chakma and Hajong as enunciated in order no.3 of the 1996 Supreme Court judgment,” Chakma added.   

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The CDFI urged the Arunachal Pradesh government and the AAPSU to “stop targeting the Chakmas and Hajongs” of the state and facilitate their full integration.  

“There has been a consistent influx of illegal migrants through Assam and influx of refugees from China and Myanmar and the Ministry of Home Affairs also issued directions including to the State of Arunachal Pradesh pertaining to the influx of Myanmarese refugees after the military coup in Myanmar on 1 February 2021. The population of the Chakmas and Hajongs increased by 218% from 1964 (14,888 persons) to 2011 (47,471 persons) which is at par with the Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribes (APSTs) while the population of the non APSTs during the same period increased by 955% from 1961 (36,614 persons) to 2011 (3,84,435). Yet, the finger is only pointed against the Chakmas and Hajongs who were settled by the Union of India.” Chakma added. 

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