Chakma Community Organisations of Arunachal Pradesh have issued a statement rejecting the idea of relocating Chakmas and Hajongs outside the state. They demand that the long-standing Chakma-Hajong issue be fully resolved by providing them all rights as Indian citizens of the state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Five major Chakma & Hajong Community-Based Organisations (CBOs): The Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCHAP), Chakma Rights & Development Organisation (CRDO), Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students Union (APCSU), Chakma Youth Federation of Arunachal (CYFA) and the Chakma Women Welfare Society (CWWS), conducted a meeting august 23 to discuss the recent developments with respect to the future of the two communities in the state. The meeting concluded with decisions taken by these organisations for and on behalf of the Chakma and Hajong communities residing in the state.
Despite the Union Minister Kiren Rijiju and CM Pema Khandu’s efforts to ensure socioeconomic development and educational advancement of these two communities, they took strong note of the Chief Minister’s Independence Day speech. The joint statement was released a day after Chakma Rights and Development Organisation expressed concerns over the uncertain future of Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh.
Firstly, Chakma community organisations also clarified that the issue of shifting or relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs from Arunachal Pradesh was never discussed in the high-level meeting held on 20 February, 2020 at Itanagar which they had attended. The meeting was attended by Amit Shah, Union Minister for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, now Union Minister of law and justice, Jitendra Prasad Singh, the then DONER minister, CM Pema Khandu, Deputy CM Chowna Mein and present Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.
Secondly, they clarified that the CAA does not apply to the State of Arunachal Pradesh and especially to the Chakma and Hajong communities as the CAA is meant to recognise the illegal migrants who came to India as on 31.12.2014. Since the Chakmas and Hajongs had been legally settled by the Government of India in consultation with the local authorities during 1964-69, the CAA is not applicable to them in any way.
About 90% of Chakmas and Hajongs are citizens of India by birth under Section 3 of the Citizenship Act of 1955 and there is not a single Chakma or Hajong who has illegally settled in the State of Arunachal Pradesh as per their best knowledge.
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Demands for Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal
Further, the organisations put their foot down with a series of demands which included unconditional withdrawal of statements made by the government which have caused fear and insecurity in the minds of the Chakmas and Hajongs. Instead of relocation elsewhere, they demand that the long-standing Chakma-Hajong issue be fully and permanently resolved at the earliest by providing full rights as Indian Citizens in the state of Arunachal Pradesh with additional guarantees within the Constitutional and legal framework of India.
They also sought that the Government of India, the Government of Arunachal Pradesh and constitutional authorities such as the state Chief Minister and the Law Minister of India, abide by the Constitution particularly Article 14 which ensures equality before law and Article 15 which prohibits discrimination by the State on grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth, while dealing with the situation of the Chakma and Hajongs with compassion and sensitivity.
They also incorporated in their demands their rights and privileges, which they had enjoyed earlier, such as government jobs, ration cards, Panchayati Raj rights, etc. until arbitrarily and illegally taken away by the state government since 1980.
The Supreme Court’s verdict in the NHRC vs State of Arunachal Pradesh & Others wherein direction was issued for processing of citizenship applications of the Chakmas and Hajongs, was another issue which they highlighted through their statement, calling it a ‘blot’ on democracy. A decision which both the State government as well as the Union Government failed to comply with.
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Enrolment of all eligible Chakmas and Hajongs in the Voter List, benefits in all economic and social welfare programmes including Ration Card, MGNREGS, PMAY, PM Kishan, Development schemes for minorities, Scholarships etc, were also among their demands.
The organisations called upon the State government of Arunachal Pradesh to create a conducive environment for the development of the Chakmas and Hajongs who wish to live peacefully with other communities to be able to contribute to the overall progress of the state of Arunachal.
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