The recent announcement by Chief Minister Pema Khandu and Union Law and Justice Minister Kiren Rijiju that the Chakma-Hajong refugees will be relocated from the state has elicited an extreme response from the indigenous tribal population of the state and its settlers.
The Chakma and Hajong communities in Arunachal said that they outright reject the idea. Further, they demanded that the longstanding refugee issue be fully and permanently resolved at the earliest by providing full rights to them as Indian citizens in Arunachal.
On the other hand, tribal groups, including apex student body AAPSU and several political parties have welcomed the announcement to shift Chakma-Hajong settlers out of the state.
The Chakma-Hajong settlers are currently settled in Lohit, Namsai, Changlang and Papum Pare districts. However, they are mostly concentrated in Changlang district and a majority are in Diyun area of the district. Their population outnumbers the indigenous Singpho tribe in the area.
The refugee issue is highly emotive for both indigenous tribal people of the state and refugee settlers. Therefore, it is not a big surprise that both sides have reacted strongly to the statement of CM Khandu and Union Minister Rijiju.
The announcement to relocate the Chakma-Hajong out of the state is a big one.
It is a well-known fact they have strongly lobbied both at the centre and at the international stage.
Originally hailing from Chittagong, the Chakma-Hajong refugees, who are mostly Buddhist and Hindu believers also have strong supporters among the members of the present regime. It will not be an easy task to just push them out of the state. It will need a proper plan which is acceptable to all sides.
Hopefully, CM Khandu and Rijiju are working according to the plan.