Chakmas in Arunachal
Image credit - ET Photo

The Voice of Indigenous People for Justice & Peace (VIPJP) has written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking justice for the Chakmas and Hajongs living in Arunachal Pradesh.

In its letter to the President, the organisation demanded that the Chakmas and Hajong, who have been living in Arunachal Pradesh for years be granted citizenship.

The letter, signed by VIPJ national president Dr SK Gajbhiye, working president Rajneesh Meshram and treasurer Krishna Dube, said the Chakma-Hajong tribals are the indigenous people of India, who were notified as Scheduled Tribes by the President of India in 1950s in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal.

“There were 2.2 lakh Chakmas in India as per 2011 census. Out of these 96,972 Chakmas were in Mizoram, 79,813 in Tripura and 2,032 in Assam and in all these states the Chakmas were accorded the Chakma Autonomous District Council (in Mizoram) under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India in 1972,” the letter said.

“There is not a single Chakma foreigner residing in Mizoram as per the statement of then (Mizoram) Home Minister R Lalzirliana in the Assembly on November 15, 2017,” the VIPJP’s letter said.

“As per the 2011 census, there are 47,073 numbers of the Chakmas and Hajongs are residing in Arunachal Pradesh and the present population is estimated around 65,000, and 90-95% are by birth citizens of India under Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955,” the organisation claimed.

Also read: HAL signs lease agreement with Alliance Air; two Do-228 planes to be operated in Arunachal

The organisation saild, “The people from the Chakmas and Hajongs community faced religious persecution and were displaced due to the construction of Kaptai Dam in Chittagong Hill Tracts (now in Bangladesh) following which they were brought by the Government of India to 1,200 km away in 1964-68 and rehabilitated in the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) that became Arunachal Pradesh in 1972.”

The Chakma-Hajong migrants were settled under “Definite Plan of Rehabilitation” and allotted permanent land and provided with financial assistance depending on the size of their families to help rebuild their shattered lives in Arunachal Pradesh, the letter said.

The organisation claimed the “Chakmas and Hajongs are original inhabitants of India”.

“That the Chakma- Hajong communities facing discrimination from neighbouring communities and the state govt has ignored them from providing any kind of developmental assistance,” the organisation alleged.

“They have been deprived of basic human and fundamental rights like education, health, food, etc. The Chakmas have suffered from attacks from the other communities, there have been various incidences of mob lynching of Chakma students, schools were burnt down, and discrimination from teachers, villages attacked and torched their residential hutments,” the letter added.

It said: “The quit notices and ultimatums issued by the AAPSU and any other group which tantamount to threats to the life and liberty of each and every Chakma should be dealt with.”

The organisation requested the President to direct the Arunachal Pradesh government & Ministry of Home Affairs that Chakmas and Hajongs communities, who migrated in 1964-68, be given full-fledged citizenship by implementing the Supreme Court Oder dated 9.1.1996 and further order dated 17.9.2015 under section 5 of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

It also urged the President to direct the Arunachal Pradesh government and the MHA that Chakmas and Hajongs be allowed to take part in the governance of the state and decision-making bodies of the state and state agencies.

Laxman Sharma

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