Indian Citizenship to Chakma and Hajong Refugees- Comparing Them with Rohingyas (Important) (Download PDF)

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Nearly one lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees living in northeast (mostly staying in Arunachal Pradesh), who came from erstwhile East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) five decades ago will get Indian citizenship.

Map of Chakma and Hajong Refugees

Map of Chakma and Hajong Refugees

Map of Chakma and Hajong Refugees

  • Decision comes in line with Supreme Court order in 2015 which directed Union government to grant citizenship to these refugees.

  • Reason for granting citizenship is the cultural links they share- Chakma-Hajongs have cultural links with India.

Who Are Chakmas and Hajongs?

  • Originally residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

  • Fled homeland after it was submerged by Kaptai dam project in 1960s.

  • Chakmas are Buddhists by faith

  • Hajongs are Hindus

  • Earlier faced religious persecution in East Pakistan

  • Entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now in Mizoram).

  • Union Government shifted them to North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) now in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • From about 5, 000 in 1964 - 69 now they are 1 lakh.

  • They presently do not enjoy Indian citizenship and land owning rights but provided basic amenities by Arunachal Pradesh Government.

Similarities between Chakma-Hajongs and Rohingyas

  • Both victims of religious persecution due to their minority status- Chakma were Buddhists and Hajos Hindus in a Muslim Majority East Pakistan and Rohingyas are Muslims in Buddhist majority.

  • Both stateless with no citizenship

  • Both attempted to acquire Indian citizenships through legal mechanism.

Dissimilarities between Chakma-Hajongs and Rohingyas

  • Chakma-Hajongs are now being granted citizenship but Rohingyas still suffering with Bangladesh planning to deport them back to Myanmar

  • Supreme court ordered to include Chakma-Hajongs under India-citizenships but no relief for Rohingyas.

Supreme Court Order

  • In 2015, Supreme Court gave deadline to Union Government to confer citizenship to Chakma-Hajongs refugees within three months.

  • Arunachal Pradesh Government petition against the order but was rejected.

Opposition to Citizenship

  • Some feel that granting citizenship would change demography of state reducing indigenous tribal communities to minority and deprive them of opportunities.

  • Government proposing that refugees not given rights to own land- and they remain exclusive to Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • They may be given Inner Line Permits required for non-locals to travel and work in three states Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland

- Published/Last Modified on: October 9, 2017

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