GUWAHATI: Arunachal Pradesh has 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs but only 5,097 of them have voting rights, the state’s BJP government said on Wednesday. The figures emerged after a survey by deputy commissioners of Changlang, Namsai and Papum Pare districts in 2015-16. According to another survey held in 2012, Chakma and Hajong population was stated to be 54,203.
The Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists while the Hajongs are largely Hindus. They were among the earliest persecuted groups to have fled the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and arrived in India during 1964-69. In Arunachal, they are settled at Changlang and Papum Pare districts. They are also found in Tripura and Mizoram.Chief Minister Pema Khandu has informed the Assembly that the matter of citizenship for Chakmas and Hajongs was sub-judice. He said the state government had submitted a special leave petition in the apex court on September 14, 2016 which was accepted.
Rights activist Suhas Chakma asserted the “debate” reflected “xenophobia” against Chakmas and Hajongs. “Even though thousands were settled by the government in then NEFA (Arunachal and parts of Northeast) along with the Chakmas and Hajongs to boost security following the 1962 India-China War, only our issue is raised while the rest continue to enjoy all rights as citizens.” Contrary to Khandu’s claim, Suhas claimed that the matter of the Chakmas and Hajongs was not sub-judice as the SC had dismissed the review petition filed with respect to the case of NHRC Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh.