NHRC directs home affairs ministry, GoAP to protect rights of Chakmas, Hajongs

NEW DELHI, 25 Jan: Based on a complaint filed by the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI), the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in an order dated 24 January, 2022 directed the union home affairs ministry and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an action taken report within six weeks against “racial profiling and relocation of the Chakmas and Hajongs from Arunachal Pradesh,” and directed both the authorities to “ensure that human rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs are protected by all the ways.”

In its complaint, the CDFI had requested for urgent intervention of the NHRC against “racial profiling of 65,000 Chakma and Hajong tribals of Arunachal Pradesh through illegal census which was scheduled to commence from 11.12.2021 for their deportation/expulsion/relocation from the state.

“Out of the 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs, about 60,500 are citizens by birth, thousands casting votes while citizenship applications of 4,000 migrants are yet to be processed,” the CDFI said in the complaint.

The NHRC had in October 1995 approached the Supreme Court of India to protect the lives and liberties of the Chakmas and Hajongs. “On 9 January, 1996, the Supreme Court pronounced its judgment in the case of NHRC vs state of Arunachal Pradesh by declaring the Chakmas and Hajongs as citizens and directing the government of India and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to process their citizenship applications,” it said.

As the matter was not sorted out, another petition was filed by the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP), seeking implementation of the Supreme Court judgment of 9 January, 1996. “On 17 September, 2015, the Supreme Court once again pronounced its judgment in CCRCAP & Ors vs state of Arunachal Pradesh & Ors, directing the government of India

and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to process their citizenship applications within three months,” it said, adding, “However, not a single application has been processed as on date.”

The complaint further stated that, on 15 August, 2021, Chief Minister Pema Khandu announced that the Chakmas and Hajongs would be relocated outside of the state, and it was confirmed by union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju.

“Furthermore, in order to implement the said plan, on 26.11.2021, the deputy commissioner of Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh notified that ‘Census of Chakmas and Hajongs 2021’ be conducted in all the Chakma/Hajong inhabited areas under his jurisdiction for report to the government on or before 31 December, 2021, which is an act of racial profiling,” the CDFI said.

“The recent measures being taken by the state of Arunachal Pradesh with respect to the Chakmas and Hajongs are absolutely contrary to the laws of the land and judgments pronounced by the Supreme Court on their rights. Instead of complying with the Supreme Court judgments, the state government had initiated their racial profiling while the union law minister had been repeatedly advocating their forcible relocation. The NHRC’s order is a significant step to bury such unlawful measures and further, the direction to both the ministry of home affairs and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to protect human rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs by all the ways is an absolute necessity,” said CDFI founder and complainant Suhas Chakma.