Arunachal Pradesh

APCSU president explains why Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 does not benefit Chakma-Hajong in Arunachal

Today, a prominent local daily The Arunachal Times published an article titled “Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016: Arunachal govt maintains utter silence while uproar prevails elsewhere” dealing with the ongoing debate on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 which makes minorities namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh eligible for applying for Indian citizenship. The Bill also seeks to reduce the minimum years of residency in India for qualification as citizen from 11 years to six years for these immigrants.

The social, students and political organizations of Arunachal Pradesh have opposed the  Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on the grounds that it would make citizenship easy for Chakma, Hajong and Tibetan refugees among others.

In a befitting reply, the President of the Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union, Tejang Chakma clarified that the allegations against the Chakmas-Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh are being “deliberately done to create fear.”

He said APCSU welcomes the protest by the AAPSU and the NESO against the Citizenship Amendment Bill because the Bill in any case does not affect the Chakmas and Hajongs as overwhelming majority of them are already citizens by birth under Section 3(1) of the Citizenship Rights Act and the rest of about 4500 Chakma-Hajong migrants have been granted citizenship by the Supreme Court.

We reproduce the text of statement of Tejang Chakma as published by The Arunachal Times:

The Chakma stand

Tejang Chakma (president, Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union): It is not the Chakma and Hajong but other non-tribal population, such as the Muslims, who pose a threat to the indigenous people of the state. As the focus remains on the Chakma for vested interests, the threat from Muslims and others is ignored, and this could have repercussions in the long run. We were born in Arunachal and for us it is our homeland.

We also welcome the protest by the AAPSU and the NESO with respect to the proposed grant of citizenship to certain categories of people who had come to India by 31 December, 2014.

However, the Chakma and Hajong are not affected by the same as the overwhelming majority of them are already citizens by birth under Section 3(1) of the Citizenship Rights Act.

At the same time, we remain concerned that citizenship is not being granted to about 4500 Chakma and Hajong who had been settled by the Government of India under a definite plan of rehabilitation after the Indo-China war of 1962. The then NEFA and Chittagong Hill Tracts of the then East Pakistan did not share any border and the Chakma were brought by the Government of India after making them travel through Mizoram, Tripura, and Assam, to be settled in Arunachal Pradesh.

Organisations such as AAPSU and NESO ought to realize that rights are never exercised by denying the same to others. They should take a principled stand.”

(The Kamalanagar Times is a non-profit initiative. Support us by voluntary contributions. We welcome your comments at thekamalanagartimes@gmail.com)

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