Chakma-Hajong refugee issue
ITANAGAR, Sep 15: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has cautioned government not to undermine the power of the people. Addressing a press meet, AAPSU General Secretary Tobom Dai said it is duty of every single indigenous tribesman to fight against the centre’s decision to grant citizenship right to Chakma-Hajong refugees living in Arunachal and said that refugee issue is a people’s movement.
Calling on all indigenous people of the state to rise against the unwanted dumping of refugees in the state and join the Union in its bandh on September 19, the AAPSU GS warned government that, “Troubled times are ahead if things are not to our liking.”
Also the AAPSU legal team on Chakma-Hajong citizenship issue today launched counter attack and asserted that the Supreme Court did not issue directives to the government to grant citizenship status to the refugees. In a press briefing on Friday, AAPSU Legal Advisor Marto Kato said that the 17 September, 2015 order passed by the Supreme Court does not grant citizenship status to the Chakmas and Hajongs, but instead asks the central and state governments to finalise the conferment of citizenship to eligible Chakmas and Hajongs.
The Supreme Court order reads, “…we allow this petition and direct the Government of India and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to finalise the conferment of citizenship rights on eligible Chakmas and Hajongs and also to ensure compliance of directions in judicial decisions refereed to on earlier part of this order for protection of their life and liberty and against their discrimination in any manner…”
Saying that the Special Review Petition filed by the AAPSU is still pending before the Supreme Court, Kato said that it was not the business of the central and state governments to grant citizenship and even illegal.
Informing that the process of verifying the Chakma and Hajong refugees in still underway, Kato said that around 1000 refugees had been identified by the state government to apply for citizenship, but were rejected since they were found to be ineligible.
“There are a total of 4637 Chakma refugee applicants, and their applications have been surprisingly filed by a handful of five to six people”, the legal team claimed, who also urged for deletion of illegal Chakma and Hajong names from the electoral roll.
“There are records that 57 Chakma families came to Arunacal in 1966 but there are no records of when Hajongs came to the state”, said Kato and called for verification of the same.
“In the UN convention, India is not party to the convention and treaty on refugee issue. As per the convention, the tribal rights and other rights cannot be taken away without the sanctions of the law. Once citizenship is granted to the Chakmas and Hajongs, the rights of the tribal people over land, water and forest will be directly conferred to the Chakmas and Hajongs and they have already filed a writ petition to the High Court, claiming ownership rights over the land in the state of Arunachal”, said Kato.
Giving an overview of the Chakma and Hajong settlement in Arunachal, Legal Advisor Nabam Jollaw, who is also a former AAPSU president, said that there was no treaty signed between the governments of India and Bangladesh to settle Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh.
On concerns that Chakmas and Hajongs would eventually be granted citizenship, Jollaw said that even if they qualify for citizenship, they should be immediately shifted from Arunachal Pradesh and resettled somewhere else.