NEW DELHI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the centre and the Arunachal Pradesh government to comply with Supreme Court judgement and grant citizenship rights to eligible Chakmas and Hajongs of the state.

The NHRC, on a joint complaint from the Chakma and Hajong Elders’ Forum of Arunachal Pradesh (CHEF) and the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), has asked the ministry of home affairs (MHA) and the Arunachal Pradesh government “to examine the compliance of order passed by the Supreme Court in WP (Civil) No.510/2007 to confer citizenship within three months and do the needful in case any part of the order of the Supreme Court of India still remains un-complied with”.

The NHRC has given a timeframe of eight weeks to the centre and the Arunachal Pradesh government to inform it on the steps taken on the matter.

The Supreme Court in its order dated September 17, 2015 in WP (Civil) No.510/2007 had directed “the Government of India and the State of Arunachal Pradesh to finalize the conferment of citizenship rights on eligible Chakmas and Hajongs and also to ensure compliance of directions in judicial decisions referred to in earlier part of this order for protection of their life and liberty and against their discrimination in any manner preferably within three months.”

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In 1995, the NHRC approached the Supreme Court for protection of the lives and liberties of the Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh.

The CHEF and the CDFI in their joint complaint to the NHRC on March 22, 2022 had stated that the 1996 and 2015 judgments of the Supreme Court were not complied with as on date and not a single citizenship application out of the 4637 applications submitted during 1997-2003 has been determined.

Hearings were held only in 3827 applications out of which only 1798 applications were forwarded by the Arunachal Pradesh government to the MHA but no decision was taken in the last 26 years.

Rule 12 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009 requires the deputy commissioner/state government to forward the citizenship applications within 120 days at the maximum.

“All 1798 applicants whose applications have been forwarded to the Central government have signed the Oath of Allegiance with incontrovertible documents such as AADHAR card, ration cards, police verification report, father’s ID card, land possession certificate, land taxes paid etc. None of these applicants has any criminal cases against them and the police verification reports on their antecedents are clear. Descendants of most applicants such as son, daughters and children have been enrolled as voters based on the documents of the migrants but the original migrants’ applications have not been processed,” said Pritimoy Chakma, general secretary of CHEF.

“The registration of this complaint by the National Human Rights Commission as the original petitioner before the Supreme Court for protection of the rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs in 1995 is a historic one and a step in the right direction to address disingenuous means adopted by the State of Arunachal Pradesh and Union of India to not implement the Supreme Court judgments in the last 26 years to deny citizenship to the original migrants and further question the citizenship of their descendants and deny all the rights. This non-implementation of the Supreme Court judgments shall go down in the annals of history as the worst case of racial discrimination, worse than the Apartheid regime in South Africa. When the State and non-State actors take pride for non-implementation of the Supreme Court judgments, there are serious problems whether the country itself is being governed by the rule of law,” said Suhas Chakma, founder of CDFI.

On March 22, 2022, a delegation of CHEF and CDFI led by Suhas Chakma had met the full bench of NHRC to apprise the commission of various “persistent discrimination” against the Chakmas and Hajongs including “non-extension” of government social welfare schemes such as Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme, Chief Minister Arogya Arunachal Yojana/Ayushman Bharat – Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana etc to the Chakmas and Hajongs.

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