NEW DELHI: Terming the Supreme Court’s 2015 order to grant citizenship to around 1 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees living in Arunachal Pradesh as “unimplementable”, union minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday that government will appeal to the apex court to modify it.
The union minister said that there are genuine ground difficulties in giving citizenship to Chakma-Hajong refugees, and it also violates the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, currently known as Inner Line Permit, as an outsider has to take special permission before visiting Arunachal Pradesh.
Asserting that he has a responsibility towards the people of Arunachal Pradesh, from where he is a member of parliament, Rijiju said that “if we (government) implements the SC direction, it will violate the constitutional rights of indigenous tribes of Arunachal Pradesh, which is a protected territory”.
“We have to soon impress upon the Supreme Court that this anomaly has to be rectified as this is a violation of the constitutional rights of the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. We will seek a modification in the order,” he said.
If Chakma-Hajong refugees are given citizenship, it will create imbalance in the social structure of the state.
“We will tell the Supreme Court that the order is not implementable,” he said.
Rijiju, who hails from Arunachal Pradesh, said he has every right to stand for the people of the state as he represents them.
He also blamed Congress for settling Chakmas-Hajongs in Arunchal Pradesh between 1964 and 1969, who were initially 2,748 families comprising 14,888 people but now the number has risen to 64,000 people.
According to an unofficial estimate, the Chakma-Hajong population has now touched 1,00,000.
The central government has been in a dilemma over SC direction to grant citizenship to the refugees while several organisations and civil society members in Arunachal Pradesh have been opposing the move saying it would change the demography of the state.
Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts in erstwhile East Pakistan, who left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.
The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam.
As carried in TOI on 20/9/2017