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
  • 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

Policy/Governance

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