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Posted at: Sep 14, 2017, 1:58 AM; last updated: Sep 14, 2017, 1:26 PM (IST)

Chakmas set to get citizenship

Chakmas set to get citizenship
Chakma activists staging a protest in Guwahati. — PTI file photo

Mukesh Ranjan

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 13

The Centre today indicated that it might soon grant citizenship to around one lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees, who came to India from the erstwhile East Pakistan five decades ago and are living in camps in the North-East. This, when the government has been talking tough on 40,000 Rohingya “illegal immigrants” from Myanmar.

According to a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) official, the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue was “discussed threadbare” today at a meeting convened by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, which was attended by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval.

In 2015, the Supreme Court had directed the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees, mostly staying in Arunachal. 

Several organisations and civil society in Arunachal have been opposing citizenship to the refugees, saying it will change the demography of the state. The Centre is trying to find a workable solution by proposing that Chakma and Hajong refugees will not be given rights, including ownership of land, enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal, the official said, adding that they, however, might be allowed to have Inner Line permits, required for non-locals to travel and work.

Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of Chittagong hill tracts in the erstwhile East Pakistan. They left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.

The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and the Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). The Centre had then moved the majority of them to the North-East Frontier Agency, which is now Arunachal Pradesh.

According to officials, their numbers have gone up from about 5,000 in 1964-69 to one lakh. 

India to send aid for Rohingya in B’desh

  • India will send humanitarian assistance to Bangladesh on Thursday for Rohingya Muslims, days after Dhaka briefed New Delhi about the massive influx of refugees from Myanmar 
  •  “An Indian aircraft will carry the first consignment of humanitarian assistance tomorrow... it will land at Chittagong airport at 11 am,” an Indian High Commission spokesman in Dhaka said 


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