New Delhi: The Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) urged Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju not to misinterpret the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019 (CAA) with respect to the Chakmas and Hajongs settled in Arunachal Pradesh from 1964 to 1969.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Rijiju has stated that the CAA has given protection to the tribals of Arunachal Pradesh from the Chakma and Hajong refugees, and that Home Minister Amit Shah has given a sandesh (message) on their settlement outside the state.

“Firstly, the Chakmas and Hajongs are not refugees. The Chakmas and Hajongs had migrated and were permanently settled in the North-East Frontier Agency, the competent authority during 1964 to 1969 i.e. Union of India including by allotting lands and grant of all facilities accorded to the citizens which had been snatched. Their citizenship issue was settled by the Supreme Court in its 1996 judgment in the case of the NHRC Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh. The Chakma and Hajong migrants had submitted their citizenship applications under Section 5 of the 1955 Citizenship Act,” said Suhas Chakma, founder of Chakma Development Foundation of India.

He went on to add that the Chakmas are citizens but the same has been denied so far because the State refuses to implement the judgment. The rest are citizens by birth as per Section 3 of the 1955 Citizenship Act. No law applies retroactively. Further, the CAA pertains to amendments under Section 6B of the Citizenship Act. Therefore, the CAA has nothing to do with the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.

“The Law Minister of the country should be promoting the rule of law and respect for the majesty of the rule of law. Not a single citizenship application has been processed in the last 25 years after the 1996 Supreme Court. The Law Minister of the country should be promoting the implementation of the judgment of the highest court of the country,” Suhas Chakma further added.

The CDFI also called upon Union Home Minister to make his purported plan for relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs outside the state public as both Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu and Union Law Minister Rijiju referred to him in their public interventions. The Home Minister has so far maintained studied silence on the issue.

The founder of CDFI further proposed that a plan should be made public to dispel any illusion that the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh shall accept relocation after sixty years. CDFI wants the Government of India to describe the rationale and raison d’etre for relocation in violations of the 1996 Supreme Court judgment.

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