ITANAGAR, Sep 13: Reacting strongly against the Centre’s decision to grant citizenship to Chakma-Hajong refugees, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) on Wednesday cautioned that any attempt to undermine or trample the indigenous peoples’ rights would trigger social unrest in the state.
The apex student’s organisation strong statement came after the Home Ministry cleared granting citizenship of Chakmas and Hajongs, who fled to India in the 1960s to escape religious persecution in the Chittagong Hill area tract of Bangladesh.
In a press conference on Wednesday, AAPSU General Secretary Tobom Dai termed the Centre’s decision as ‘very unfortunate’ and said that the Centre treats indigenous people as second class citizens of the country.
“Granting citizenship to Chakma-Hajong refugees in Arunachal will not only grant them political rights, but will also have far reaching ramifications in the social fabric of the state”, warned Dai.
“The decision will flare up social unrest until and unless the rights of the indigenous people are adequately protected and safeguarded”, Dai said, while announcing that the AAPSU will launch a state wide agitation against the centre’s move to grant citizenship to refugees.
Though the Home Ministry official stated that Chakmas and Hajongs will not have any land ownership rights in Arunachal Pradesh, there is no specific point where the Centre guarantees the rights of indigenous people, the AAPSU noted and feared that granting citizenship would change the demography of the state.
Dai further said that they have not received an official confirmation over the decision taken on Wednesday, but as per the updates by MoS Home Kiren Rijiju and others, “it seems that it is going in an unpleasant direction”.
“We had always expected that justice would be delivered to the indigenous people, but today’s decision is very unfortunate, with this new development our rights are being trampled”, he further added.
The AAPSU GS also castigated both the Congress and BJP, saying that both parties played their part to drag the state in the current situation. He also blamed the Pema Khandu led Government in the state for allegedly showing indifferent attitude towards the issue.
AAPSU made it clear that it doesn’t oppose the granting of citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs, however, it should not give land rights, jeopardizing the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulating Act of 1873.
He added that there are about three lakh Chakmas and Hajongs in Dayun-Bordumsa general assembly constituency and the population of the Singphos and Khampti people combined is hardly 10, 000.
Citing examples of states like Tripura and Assam where the refugee population has outnumbered the indigenous population, Dai said that “regulations like the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act and Chin Hills Regulation 1896, should not be trampled or it will not be long before we become the minority in our own land”.
Meanwhile, speaking on the Tibetan Refugee Policy, AAPSU Vice President (Admin) Meje Taku informed that they have submitted a memorandum with 30 days ultimatum to revoke the cabinet decision.
“Decision on issues that affect the indigenous people cannot be taken in a cabinet meeting. It should be decided in consultation with NGOs, civil societies, CBOs, all political parties, and public”, said Taku.
Regarding ongoing Chakma-Hajong issue, he said that “AAPSU would like to give a clear message to all the political parties that their decision and actions on the matter will prove whether they love their political position or the people of the state.”