The Union minister of state for Home, Kiren Rijiju stated that the Centre will urge the Supreme Court to modify its 2015 order of granting citizenship to Chakma, Hajong refugees in north east India without diluting the rights of the indigenous people.
The Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in erstwhile East Pakistan who left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s. Some also fled to India to escape persecution as they were non-Muslims and did not speak Bengali.
In the 1980’s attempts were made to grant them citizenship which was highly opposed by the locals and the regional parties, who were worried that the meagre resources they possessed would have to be shared.
Recently, the Centre decided to grant citizenship to nearly one lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees who have been residing in the northeastern states for over 50 years. This decision evoked sharp reactions in Arunachal Pradesh, where nearly 50,000 of the refugees reside.
In an attempt to find a middle ground, the Government is trying to find a solution by proposing that the refugees will not be given rights, including land ownership that is enjoyed by the Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh.
Ashwina Pinto, Associate