Responding to the statement of Union Minister Kiren Rijiju on January 6, the Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union (APCSU) stated that Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh do not come under the ambit of the Citizenship Amendment Act 2019.

Union minister Kiren Rijiju said under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA, no refugee in Arunachal Pradesh can claim the rights of indigenous tribals of the northeastern state.

Speaking to reporters after attending the Shi-Donyi festival of the Tagin community, the Union Law and Justice Minister said CAA provides special privileges to the Northeast as the region is exempted from its purview.

However, the APCSU president Drishyamuni Chakma rejected any so-called relocation outside Arunachal Pradesh “because we have been living in Arunachal Pradesh for almost 6 decades i.e. 60 years and we have built our home and hearth.”

The Government of India legally brought the Chakmas and Hajongs during 1964-1969 and settled them permanently under “Definite Plan of Rehabilitation”, the students union said.

Under this plan, the Union said, the Government of India in consultation with the then NEFA administration (now Arunachal Pradesh) allotted 5 acres of land permanently to each Chakma and Hajong family and provided ration cards, jobs, gun license, business license, among others.

The Chakmas and Hajongs came to NEFA (now Arunachal Pradesh) much before the 31 December 2014 cut off year of CAA, and the Chakmas and Hajongs are governed by the Citizenship Act of 1955, not the CAA 2019, hence, they do not come under CAA.

“The Government of India settled the Chakmas and Hajongs in the then centrally administered North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) along with ex-Assam Rifles for the defence of India, following the 1962 Indo-China war because this point of time was very crucial and critical for defending India’s sovereignty, and therefore once they were settled permanently, the matter ends there.”

“Moreover, the honourable Supreme Court judgments on 9 January, 1996 and 17 September 2015 directed the Central government and state government to protect life and liberty of Chakma & Hajongs under Article 21 of the India constitution and confer citizenship to around 14,888 Chakmas and Hajongs. Furthermore, the majority of the Chakmas and Hajongs born in Arunachal Pradesh during the period of nearly 60 years, are citizens by birth under Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, and what is legally needed now is to enrol them in voter list and provide them back all withdrawn facilities”, APCSU general secretary Supon Chakma said in a statement. 

Also read: Don’t misinterpret CAA, clarify plan of relocation: CDFI to Rijiju

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