ITANAGAR: A massive protest was organised at Diyun in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh on Sunday (November 27) over cancellation of resident proof certificates (RPCs) to Chakmas and Hajongs in the state. 

This protest at Diyun in Arunachal Pradesh was organised under the banner of Joint Action Committee (JAC), which is the unified umbrella organisations of all Chakma-Hajong community-based organisations (CBOs). 

The JAC comprises: Chakma Rights and Development Organization, Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakma & Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Gaonburah Council, Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union, Arunachal Pradesh Hajong Students Union, Chakma Women Welfare Society, Chakma National Council of India – Arunachal Pradesh and Rashtriya Chakma Tribal Sangha. 

The JAC has demanded restoration of RPCs to Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh within December 15, 2022. 

“We strongly condemn the notification No POL/CH-2/2022-23/100 dated 4th November 2022 issued by Shri Rajeev Takuk, Joint Secretary (Political), Government of Arunachal Pradesh cancelling all Residence Proof Certificates (RPCs) issued to the Chakma and Hajong people of Changlang District, Arunachal Pradesh,” a statement from the JAC comprising Chakma and Hajong bodies in Arunachal Pradesh stated. 

It added: “The impugned circular also provides for issue of Temporary Settlement Certificates In lieu of Resident Proof Certificates as an alternative arrangement. This is a direct blow to the right of Chakma and Hajong people to join the defence forces and serve the nation as well as hitting them below the belt as it denies them the right to earn their livelihood.” 

The JAC further said: “Replacing the Residence Proof Certificate with so-called ‘Temporary Settlement Certificates’ is like adding insult to injury to the sentiments of the Chakma Hajong people as it will neither serve the purpose of residence proof for various educational purposes nor will be admissible as proof for any employment / career related opportunities. It is useless and serves no purpose.” 

“It is also a blatant violation of the Delhi High Court’s judgement of 2000 (W.P. No.886 of 2000) that ruled Chakmas as citizens of India by birth and many of whom are voting as citizens of India and the Guwahati High Court’s order of 2013 (PIL No.52 of 2010) that categorically stated that the Chakmas and Hajongs don’t require any inner line permit.”  

“Temporary residence certificates are meant for those who need ILP to enter Arunachal Pradesh and Chakmas and Hajongs being ‘residents of Arunachal Pradesh’ do not need ILP.  Since the Chakmas have been resident of the state for more than 58 years, they meet the eligibility criteria of minimum 10 years domicile stipulated by the state and hence the Chakmas and Hajongs should be given ‘Permanent Residence Certificates’ and not Temporary Settlement Certificates.”  

“Issuing Temporary Settlement Certificates is a new category construct created by the state administration to appease the AAPSU and is in clear defiance of and violation to the aforesaid court order, malafide and discriminatory.”  

“Subsequently, an additional notification No. CHG/JS/GUARD-01/2022 has been issued by the Deputy Commissioner Changlang on 14th November 2022, to seal the fate of the Chakma and Hajong students and deny them of their aspiration to serve the nation and pursue their career goals.” 

“It may be mentioned here that AAPSU had earlier raised the RPC issue because of an alleged brawl that involved a few Chakma jawans with local tribal youth. This incident was blown out of proportion and given a political colour to target innocent Chakma children and jeopardize their future.”   

“The state government has succumbed to AAPSU’s vindictive pressure-tactics and has failed to act impartially and carry out its legal obligations to safeguard the life, health and well-being of Chakmas residing in the State without being inhibited by local politics.” 

“The recent suspension and then cancellation of the Residence Proof Certificate is another instance of denial and deprivation policy, the process of de-Indianization that started in 1980 and must be stopped and the full-fledged rights of Chakmas and Hajong peoples immediately restored.” 

“RPCs are a basic and yet mandatory document which Chakma and Hajong youth use solely for educational and job purposes. Denying RPCs is tantamount to depriving them of their basic human rights and jeopardizing their already fragile future.”  

“In view of the above

1. We demand revocation of these impugned notifications and restoration of either Resident Proof Certificates (RPCs) or issue Permanent Resident Certificates to the Chakmas and Hajongs within 15th December 2022 failing which we will escalate our democratic protest indefinitely in the form of hunger strike, bandh calls, non-cooperation, etc.

2. We will not accept Temporary Settlement Certificates in lieu of the Residential Proof Certificates under any circumstances as it is not going to serve any purpose, regressive, turning the clock backwards to the pre-settlement/rehabilitation phase and violates principles of justice and various orders of the high court / supreme courts. 

3. Supreme Court’s directive to protect the life, liberty and property of each and every Chakma and Hajong as well as the protection of their human rights must be honoured, and the court verdicts implemented without any further delay. “

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