Chakmas oppose citizenship amendment bill

NEW DELHI, Nov 22: The All India Chakma Social Forum (AICSF) has opposed the citizenship amendment bill (CAB), stating that, as it has become an instrument to vilify the Chakma community as foreigners and beneficiaries of the CAB “despite the Chakmas being citizens of India and notified as scheduled tribes in Assam, Tripura, Mizoram, Meghalaya and West Bengal.”
“There were 2.2 lakh Chakmas in India as per the 2011 census. Out of these, 96,972 Chakmas were in Mizoram, 79,813 were in Tripura, and 2,032 were in Assam, and in all these states, Chakmas are citizens of India,” said AICSF secretary-general Paritosh Chakma.
“The Chakmas have been living in the western belt of Mizoram from time immemorial, and in 1898 a portion of the then Chittagong Hill Tracts, covering the current western belt of Mizoram inhabited by the Chakmas, was included into the Lushai Hills for administrative purposes. The Mizos (Lushais), Tripuris and Chakmas live on both sides of the India-Bangladesh borders,” he said.
“There were 47,073 Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh as per the 2011 census, and most of them are citizens by birth as per the existing Citizenship Act, 1955. There are about 4,500 surviving Chakma and Hajongs migrants who migrated during 1964 to 1969, and their citizenship applications are not being processed despite
two Supreme Court judgments and monitoring by the Supreme Court. The CAB is not applicable to the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh, even though there are acts of racial discrimination and non-compliance with the Supreme Court orders,” said Santosh Chakma, the general secretary of the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh.
“There is a vested interest to vilify the Chakmas in the Northeast. Since the creation of Bangladesh in 1971, whenever Chakmas sought refuge in India, they were always housed in camps in Tripura and repatriated to Bangladesh, with the last repatriation taking place in 1998, following the signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord of 1997.
“The Chakmas are the only group of refugees in India who have always been kept in camps and repatriated to Bangladesh while all other refugees, whether Tibetans, Sri Lankan Tamils, Myanmarese Chins and Myanmarese Rohingyas, have never been repatriated to their country of origin,” Paritosh said.
“The time has come for many community organizations in Northeast India to stop xenophobia against the Chakmas as foreigners in the Northeast. The entire population of the Chakmas in the world is about 5.5 lakhs, including 3 lakhs in Bangladesh, 2.2 lakhs in India, and 30,000 in Myanmar.
“The Chakmas do not pose any threat to any community, and the Chakmas are fighting for their rights wherever they are residing. However, xenophobia against the Chakmas has reached such an insane level that Chakmas whose population in Assam was 2,032 persons as per the 2011 census are targeted by a few local NGOs as a threat to over 3 crore population of Assam,” Paritosh Chakma said.