ITANAGAR, 25 Aug: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has welcomed the state government’s purported move to relocate the Chakma and Hajong settlers from Arunachal.
“The recent statement given by Chief Minister Pema Khandu to move and settle the Chakmas and Hajongs outside Arunachal is historic as the AAPSU, along with the people of the state have been fighting this for decades,” AAPSU general secretary Tobom Dai said.
Addressing a press conference here at the Press Club on Wednesday, Dai said, “The illegal Chakma and Hajong immigrants were brought to Arunachal way back in the year 1964-1969 without pre-intimation to the locals of the state.”
“The AAPSU has always been against the settlement of Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal for several reasons, among which is the perilous demographic changes that have occurred in the districts they are settled in and their aggressive poacher attitude towards the ethnic tribes of the state,” he said.
Dai also appreciated Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju for his statement to bring about a permanent solution to the refugee issue under the ambit of the Indian constitution.
“The statements made by both the chief minister and union law minister are bold and historic. These statements have come as a breath of fresh air for the AAPSU and the people of Arunachal who have been fighting against the settlement for decades,” Dai said.
Chief Minister Khandu in his Independence speech had said that “all illegal immigrant Chakmas will be moved and settled outside Arunachal Pradesh with honour, and this matter has already been taken up and discussed with Union Home Minister Amit Shah.”
Rijiju on the other hand had assured to protect the inherent rights of the indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh while asserting that no foreigner settled in the state will have a permanent residence under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act.
Dai, however, said that both Khandu and Rijiju must ensure their assurances turn into a reality and not just remain mere statements.
We will be closely watching the developments, the AAPSU general secretary said while also appealing to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shah to make the statements given by Khandu and Rijiju a reality for the people of Arunachal Pradesh.
Responding to the reaction of the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) on the statements made by Khandu and Rijiju, Dai said that “the Chakma and Hajong leaders who have not even lived in Arunachal and are unaware of the ground realities are trying to sabotage the entire process.”
“It is also ironic that the Chakma and Hajong leaders who have always been demanding a permanent and logical solution to the settlement process under the ambit of the Indian Constitution are now opposing it. They should stay away from spreading misinformation and trolling the ministers from our state in the national and international forums,” Dai said.
Union president Hawa Bagang said the AAPSU and the people of Arunachal have already made it clear that they will never accept the Chakmas and Hajongs or even provide an inch of land to them.
Slamming the CDFI, Bagang said instead of provoking the people, the Chakma leaders should welcome the initiative of the state and central government to find a permanent solution to the matter.
“The Chakma leaders settled in the luxury of New Delhi know that if this settlement issue is resolved they will also lose their source of income and the support they receive to run their NGOs. So the Chakma and Hajongs who are temporarily settled in Arunachal should stop supporting these leaders and funding them using their hard earned money,” Bagang said.
The Chakmas and Hajongs, originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of the former East Pakistan, had to flee when their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.
The groups entered India through what was then the Lushai Hills district of Assam (today’s Mizoram). While some stayed back with Chakmas already living in the Lushai Hills, the Indian government moved a majority of the refugees to present-day Arunachal Pradesh.
Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while the Hajongs are Hindus.