Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Monday said that no order has been issued by the government to halt the census of the Chakma and Hajong refugees in the state.
In an interview to PTI, Khandu said his government is serious about resolving the protracted issue and will rehabilitate the Chakma and Hajong refugees in other states.
“There is no written order given by the government to halt the census. We will instruct the district administrations to resume the census soon,” Khandu said.
The chief minister’s statement came after the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) served a 15-day ultimatum to the state government on Saturday to resume the census.
It had claimed that the census came to a halt after the state government received a letter from the Prime Minister’s Office on December 7.
Earlier this month, the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), in a petition to PM Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, alleged racial profiling of 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh.
Khandu said that the indigenous people of the state have been assured that his government will rehabilitate the Chakma and Hajong refugees in other states.
“For a settlement, we need to have the authentic data for which the enumeration process is being carried out to know the exact numbers of legal and illegal refugees so that we can initiate talks with the Centre for their immediate settlement in other states with full facilities,” he said.
Khandu asserted that nobody ever tried to resolve the vexed issue.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, and the BJP government in the state are trying for a permanent solution. Arunachal is a tribal state and non-Arunachalee people cannot settle here,” he said.
Initially, the Chakma and Hajong people were in the state as refugees, he said. “Unfortunately, over the years, their numbers increased manifold.”
The number of Chakmas and Hajongs living in the state is 65,857, as per a special survey conducted by the government in 2015-16, the state assembly was informed last year. However, unofficial estimates put the population at over 2 lakh.
People belonging to the two tribes live mainly in Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts.
Khandu said the living condition of the Chakmas and Hajongs in the state is “very bad”.
“The Chakma and Hajong settlers are also human beings. They too are suffering a lot here. Therefore, we have to arrive at a win-win solution for them and our indigenous tribes. It will benefit the refugees if they are settled in other states with full facilities. It will also end the sporadic incidents of quarrel between them and the indigenous people, and peace will prevail,” the chief minister said.
Chakmas who are Buddhists and Hajongs who are Hindus migrated to India between 1964 and 1966 from the Chittagong Hills Tract of then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) to escape religious persecution, and were settled in North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), present-day Arunachal Pradesh.
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