Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has spoken with Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval to initiate the process, according to PTI. Buddhists by faith, the Chakmas faced religious persecution in East Pakistan along with the Hajongs, who are Hindus. While some stayed back with the Chakmas already in the district, the Indian government moved a majority of them to the North East Frontier Agency, which is now Arunachal Pradesh.
Amidst the uproar over Rohingya Muslims, almost one lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees, who came from the erstwhile East Pakistan five decades ago and now living in camps in the Northeast, are set to get Indian citizenship.
The meeting is set to be organised here, sources said. Since 1990, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union has been demanding their ouster from the state. However, the Khandu-led government has argued that granting citizenship to refugees would reduce indigenous tribal communities to a minority and deprive them of opportunities. However, the refugees, who live in remote, forested areas, may be given Inner Line Permits, required for non-locals in Arunachal Pradesh who want to travel and work there. The move came following an order of the Supreme Court, which in 2015 had directed the central government to grant citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees, mostly staying in Arunachal Pradesh. “We do consider the human rights of the chakmas, we will take care of them”.
The Chakma and the Hajong communities had escaped their country in 1960s, after their lands were flooded by the Kapti Dam. If the plan goes through, it will have a huge impact on the debate surrounding Rohingyas from Myanmar, who have been declared illegal immigrants and might be deported soon.
Without identification papers, they receive no state support. These people are stuck in a no-man’s land invisible to the media and government. “They are not recognised by either the Indian or Bangladeshi governments and therefore do not qualify for assistance”, said World Vision India’s Director of Disaster Management Kunal Shah.