Other States

Make citizenship to Chakma, Hajongs in Arunachal final: NHRC

Life inside the Chakma refugee camps in Southern Tripura, a northeastern Indian border State where the refugees from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts are staying for the past two years. While men work in the fields, and the women earn a living by weaving and other handicrafts

Life inside the Chakma refugee camps in Southern Tripura, a northeastern Indian border State where the refugees from Bangladesh’s Chittagong Hill Tracts are staying for the past two years. While men work in the fields, and the women earn a living by weaving and other handicrafts | Photo Credit: HINDU PHOTO ARCHIVES

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Friday has asked the Centre and the Arunachal Pradesh government to finalise the conferment of citizenship rights to the eligible people of Chakma and Hajongs tribes as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The apex court in 1996 and 2015 ruled in favour of granting citizenship to the members of the two communities settled in Arunachal Pradesh in the 1960s after they were displaced by a dam in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The Chakmas are Buddhists, and the Hajongs are Hindus.

The NHRC issued the directive after hearing a joint complaint from the Chakma & Hajong Elders’ Forum of Arunachal Pradesh (CHEF) and the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) on May 17. The Centre and the State government were asked to complete the exercise within three months.

The commission said the migrants needed to be protected and their claims of citizenship considered according to applicable procedure. It said they could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of citizenship rights.

The CHEF and CDFI had in their May 22 complaint with the NHRC said none of the 4,637 citizenship applications from the Chakmas and Hajongs during 1997-2003 had been processed despite two Supreme Court’s orders.

Hearings were held on 3,827 applications out of which only 1,798 were forwarded by the State government to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), but no decision was taken in the last 26 years, the two organisations said. They cited Rule 12 the Citizenship Rules, 2009, that requires the local authorities to forward the citizenship applications within 120 days.

“All the 1,798 applicants had produced relevant documents such as ration cards, police verification reports and land possession certificates. None of them had any criminal cases against them,” CHEF general secretary, Pritimoy Chakma said.

He said the applications of the original migrants were not processed while their descendants were enrolled as voters in the frontier State.

“The registration of the complaint by the NHRC is a step in the right direction for addressing disingenuous means adopted by Arunachal Pradesh and the Union of India to not implement the Supreme Court judgements in the last 26 years,” CDFI founder Suhas Chakma said.

In 2021, the CDFI had petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat against the alleged racial profiling of 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs and the State government’s move to relocate them outside the State through an illegal census.


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Printable version | May 21, 2022 12:48:18 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/make-citizenship-to-chakma-hajongs-in-arunachal-final-nhrc/article65439308.ece