“The Chakmas and Hajongs were settled by the Union of India, the competent authority of then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA), from 1964 onwards and those born in the NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India by birth. There is no provision in the constitution of India empowering any State or UT to declare a non-resident and therefore forcibly remove from its territorial jurisdiction, says CDFI.
Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) on Tuesday urged Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu not to perpetuate prejudices against the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh by terming them as refugees, not eligible for permanent settlement in the state and therefore, proposing their relocation in different States of India.
While addressing three-day training programme for trainers commemorating the National Panchayati Raj Day at Itanagar on April 24, Chief Minister Pema Khandu declared that after resolving Assam-Arunachal Pradesh boundary dispute, he will resolve the Chakma-Hajong problem by distributing them in different States of India as the Chakmas and Hajongs being refugees cannot be permanently settled in the state, which is protected as a tribal State under the constitution.
Glad to have attended Panchayati Raj Day celebration in presence of Hon Panchayati Raj & Rural Development Min Shri @bamangfelix Ji & Advisor to RD Minister Smt Gum Tayeng Ji.
Stressed that development should be uniform, equally spread & delivered to last mile. The State would… pic.twitter.com/18nZHsC8pV
— Pema Khandu པདྨ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་། (@PemaKhanduBJP) April 24, 2023
“The Chakmas and Hajongs were settled by the Union of India, the competent authority of then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA), from 1964 onwards and those born in the NEFA/Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India by birth. There is no provision in the constitution of India empowering any State or UT to declare a non-resident and therefore forcibly remove from its territorial jurisdiction. Most of those who had migrated during 1964-1969 are almost dead and those who are alive cannot be removed from the State as per the directions of the Supreme Court in its 1996 judgment in NHRC Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh. There is also no provision in the Constitution of India defining Arunachal Pradesh or any State other State as a tribal State and in fact, Article 371(h) of the Constitution only gives special responsibility and powers to the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh. Therefore, the statements such as Chakmas and Hajongs are refugees, Arunachal Pradesh is a tribal state protected by the Constitution etc are incorrect and only perpetuate the prejudices against a section of the Indian citizens.” – stated Suhas Chakma, Founder of the CDFI.
According to a statement issued by CDFI, Suhas Chakma cautioned Arunachal Pradesh by stating that, “if Arunachal Pradesh expects other States to take a few thousand Chakmas and Hajongs, there will be called upon Arunachal Pradesh to share the burden of 1.9 million people excluded from the NRC in Assam and other States like Tripura considering that the density of population in 2022 was 17 persons in Arunachal Pradesh compared 431 people per square kilometer in India. Furthermore, considering the claim of China on Arunachal Pradesh including renaming of the Indian territories on April 6, 2022 and extremely low population density in the State, the demand for settlement of people from other parts of India to Arunachal Pradesh to counter the threats of China may arise in the near future. After all, many groups including ex-Assam Rifles, refugees from erstwhile East Pakistan etc were settled in then NEFA to address security threat from China following the 1962 Indo-China war.”
In his address, Chief Minister Khandu also stated that whenever he visits eastern Arunachal Pradesh and meets the Chakmas, he feels extremely sad to see that Chakmas have no facilities, the housing conditions are bad and there are so many poor Chakmas.
“The Chief Minister must realize that the deplorable economic conditions and extreme poverty have been created by the State of Arunachal Pradesh by denying all the rights and facilities to the Chakmas and Hajongs in the last 60 years. Mere expression of sadness is not enough; Chief Minister himself must ensure implementation of the sustainable development goals in the Chakma and Hajong inhabited areas if such extreme poverty is to be alleviated.” – also added Chakma.