India’s leading human rights activist Suhas Chakma has challenged Arunachal chief minister Pema Khandu’s version of a case involving an appeal to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees in the state.

CM Khandu has said the case of the Chakmas and Hajongs was sub-judice before the Supreme Court .

But Chakma said it was not true because the Supreme Court has already dismissed the state’s  review petition filed with respect to the case of National Human Rights Commission Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh.

“The judgment to grant citizenship to the Chakmas and Hajongs has achieved finality. It is the non-compliance with the said judgment by the Arunachal govetnment which is under adjudication before the Supreme Court,” Chakma told Northeast Now.

” If a state government takes pride in not processing the citizenship applications and rejecting them en masse, it is nothing but promotion of  illegality and violations of fundamental rights with impunity. If India were a country governed by the rule of law, the officials would have been rotting in jails for the contempt of court for the non-compliance with the Supreme Court judgment,” Chakma said.

Even though thousands of other people were settled by the Government of India in then NEFA (Arunachal and parts of Northeast) along with the Chakmas and Hajongs to beef up the security following the 1962 Indo-China War, Chakma said only the issue of the Chakmas and Hajongs was raised while the rest like the Tibetans continue to enjoy all rights as citizens of the country.

“There is a strange xenophobia in Arunachal Pradesh when the issue of granting citizenship to Chalmas and Hajongs are raised,” he said.

Arunachal Pradesh has 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs but only 5,097 of them have voting rights in the state, the state’s BJP government said on Wednesday.

The figures emerged from a special survey conducted by the deputy commissioners (district magistrates) of Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts in 2015-16.

According to another survey conducted in 2012, the state’s Chakma and Hajong population was stated to be 54,203.

Taking part in a discussion on the issue in the Assembly on Wednesday, chief minister Pema Khandu said the matter of their citizenship was sub-judice.

He said the state government had submitted a special leave petition in the Supreme Court on September 14, 2016 which was accepted. He said hearing on the case was being awaited.

The Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while the Hajongs are largely Hindus. They were among persecuted groups along with the  Bengali Hindus to have fled the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) into India in the mid 1960s.

While they initially entered Tripura, Mizoram and Assam, they were later moved to NEFA before it became Arunachal Pradesh.

They are settled in Bordumsa-Diyun areas of Changlang district and Kokila area of Papum Pare district. They also have sizeable populations in Tripura and Mizoram.

These migrants insist that the bogey of them outnumbering local tribes like Tangsa, Khampti, Nocte, Singpho and Mishmi, in Arunachal is baseless .

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