The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) leader Hawa Bagang on Tuesday said they will not accept exemption of Chakma and Hajong refugees from ILP.
“Though it was true that the Chakma and Hajong refugees would get Indian citizenship if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) is implemented in the country, they would, however, still require Inner Line Permits to enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh.”
“This is an assurance that has been given to us by home minister Amit Shah,” Bagang told reporters on Tuesday.
Bagang said, “AAPSU’s stand has and will always remain the same and they have told Shah that they want the Chakma and Hajongs be deported from the state.”
He also added that once they become Indian citizens, the Central and state government would stop providing them the basic amenities that the refugees get.
Union general secretary Tobom Dai said, “Though the AAPSU’s stand and demand is clear in regards to the deportation of Chakma and Hajongs, however, there is still an ambiguity as the Centre’s stand is unclear to them.”
“Once the Chakma and Hajongs receive citizenship, they have to leave the state, but whether that deportation will practically be carried out by the Central and state government is still questionable,” Dai said.
North East Students’ Organization (NESO) coordinator Pritam Bhai Sonam said, “The NESO along with the AAPSU have been fighting against the Chakma and Hajong refugees for decades and many student leaders have lost their lives in this process.”
“We cannot simply let their sacrifices go in vain so we will fight till the end,” Sonam said.
The Chakmas and Hajongs, originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of the former East Pakistan, had to flee when their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.
The groups entered India through what was then the Lushai Hills district of Assam (today’s Mizoram).
While some stayed back with Chakmas already living in the Lushai Hills, the Indian government moved a majority of the refugees to present-day Arunachal Pradesh.
Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while the Hajongs are Hindus.
The current population of the Chakmas and Hajongs settled in Arunachal is believed to be above 1 lakh.