Finalise conferment of citizenship rights on Chakmas, Hajongs within three months: NHRC

The Commission said the migrants needed to be protected and their claims of citizenship considered according to the applicable procedure.

Published: 20th May 2022 06:32 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th May 2022 06:32 PM   |  A+A-

Citizenship Bill

The Buddhist Chakmas and the Hindu Hajongs were resettled in Arunachal during 1964-69 by the central government. (Photo | PTI)

By Express News Service

GUWAHATI: The Buddhist Chakmas and the Hindu Hajongs, settled in Arunachal Pradesh, must be a relieved lot.

On Friday, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) directed the Centre and the Arunachal government to finalise the conferment of citizenship rights on the eligible Chakmas and Hajongs as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The Commission issued the directive after receiving a joint complaint from the Chakma and Hajong Elders' Forum of Arunachal Pradesh (CHEF) and the Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI).

After hearing the complaint on May 17, the NHRC asked the Centre and the Arunachal government to complete the exercise within three months.

The NHRC said, "It is well known that the Chakmas and the Hajongs were displaced from an area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) following the construction of Kaptai dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated (in Arunachal during 1964-69) by the Government of India."

The Commission said the migrants needed to be protected and their claims of citizenship considered according to the applicable procedure. It said they could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship.

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In their joint complaint submitted to the NHRC on March 22, 2022, the CHEF and the CDFI had stated the SC's 1996 and 2015 judgments were not complied with as on date and not a single citizenship application out of the 4,637 applications submitted during 1997-2003 had been determined.

Hearings were held on 3,827 applications out of which only 1,798 were forwarded by the state government to the Ministry of Home Affairs but no decision was taken in the last 26 years, they had written in their complaint.

According to them, Rule 12 of the Citizenship Rules, 2009 requires the Deputy Commissioner/state government to forward the citizenship applications within 120 days.

"All 1,798 applicants, whose applications have been forwarded to the Central government, have signed the oath of allegiance with incontrovertible documents such as AADHAR card, ration cards, police verification report, father's ID card, land possession certificate, land taxes paid etc. None of these applicants has any criminal cases against them and the police verification reports on their antecedents are clear," CHEF general secretary Pritimoy Chakma said.

He lamented that while the descendants were enrolled as voters, the applications of the original migrants were not processed.

"The registration of this complaint by the NHRC as the original petitioner before the Supreme Court for the protection of the rights of the Chakmas and the Hajongs is a historic one," CDFI founder Suhas Chakma said.

He added, "It is a step in the right direction to address disingenuous means adopted by the state of Arunachal and Union of India to not implement the Supreme Court judgments in the last 26 years to deny citizenship to the original migrants and further question the citizenship of their descendants and deny all the rights."

Last year, the CDFI petitioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat against "racial profiling" of 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs in Arunachal and the state government's alleged move to relocate the people belonging to the two communities outside the state through an illegal census.


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