Yet again the Chakma-Hajong refugee problem is making headlines in the state. This time, a clash broke out between the local Mishmi population and Chakma settlers in Kathan in Lohit district. The locals allege that the refugee settlers are encroaching on the traditional land belonging to the Mishmis. On the other hand, the Chakmas claim that a Buddha temple established in the area was desecrated by the locals. Had the police not intervened, the clash between the two groups would have turned bloody on Thursday.
After M’Pen and Diyun, Kathan is emerging as a new flashpoint between the settlers and the local indigenous population. The constant conflicts over land resources have the potential to turn ugly if the situation is not brought under control on time. The population of the settlers is growing with each passing year. Many of them who were born in Arunachal are demanding equal rights, including land rights. They are being given Indian citizenship and many have voting rights too. The present BJP government at the Centre is sympathetic to the Hindu and Buddhist refugee settlers from countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, neither the central nor the state government is making any sincere effort to resolve this issue. There is a famous saying that a spark neglected burns the house. The refugee problem has the potential to cause major problems in the state in the future. The indigenous population feels threatened by their growing assertions. On the other hand, the Chakmas and Hajongs feel that they are being denied their basic rights. This can cause major trouble with both sides willing to go to any extent to safeguard their respective rights. The government needs to intervene and work out a solution which is acceptable to both groups.