No plan to relocate refugees from Arunachal in Assam: Himanta Biswa Sarma

Resettlement bid indicated by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju has triggered protests

April 23, 2024 07:41 pm | Updated 07:42 pm IST - GUWAHATI

 Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma. File

Assam Chief Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma. File | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy


A day after Union Minister Kiren Rijiju indicated otherwise, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on April 23 said there were no plans to relocate the Chakma and Hajong refugees from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam.

Mr. Rijiju, the BJP’s candidate from the Arunachal West constituency, told journalists on Monday that talks have been initiated with Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Dr. Sarma on the resettlement of Chakmas as Arunachal Pradesh has been kept out of the ambit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019.

Also read | The unsettled settlers of Arunachal Pradesh

The Chakmas, mostly Buddhists, were settled in Arunachal Pradesh in the 1960s, when parts of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), where they lived, were submerged by a dam. The Hindu Hajongs migrated from East Pakistan around the same time because of alleged religious persecution.

“There are no plans for such relocation. We have had no discussions with Arunachal Pradesh regarding the resettlement of the Chakmas and Hajongs in Assam,” the Assam Chief Minister said.

The discussion, he added, was about ironing out the citizenship issues of the Moran and Muttock people living in Arunachal Pradesh. Members of these two communities are natives of the eastern part of Assam.

The settlement of some 67,000 Chakmas and Hajongs living in Arunachal Pradesh has been a touchy issue. Indigenous communities are against the granting of citizenship to the two groups of refugees.

Mr. Rijiju’s statement has triggered a wave of protests in Assam with Congress and its allies, the Assam Jatiya Parishad and Raijor Dal, vowing to resist any move to resettle the Chakmas and Hajongs in Assam.

“Assam cannot be used as a dustbin for foreign nationals,” Raijor Dal president and Sivasagar MLA, Akhil Gogoi said.

State Congress president Bhupen Kumar Borah said burdening Assam with more refugees would be injustice to the indigenous people, many of whom have become landless owing to natural and political reasons.

“As it is, Assam accepted people from Bangladesh who crossed over up to March 24, 1971. We do not have space for more,” he said, urging people to keep the BJP’s “dangerous design” in mind while voting in the next two phases.

Polling for the ongoing Lok Sabha election in five seats will be held on April 26 and in four on May 7. Elections to five other seats were held in the first phase on April 19.

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