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Govt to grant citizenship, but not ST status, to Chakmas, Hajong refugees

Several organisations in Arunachal Pradesh have been opposing citizenship saying it would change demography oof state

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

Rajnath Singh
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a press conference in Srinagar. Photo: PTI

The Centre will soon grant citizenship to nearly one lakh and Hajong refugees, who came from the erstwhile East five decades ago and are living in camps in the Northeast, officials said on Wednesday. The Chakma-Hajong refugee issue was discussed threadbare today at a high-level meeting convened by Union Home Minister and attended by Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State for Home and Security Advisor among others. In 2015, the Supreme had directed the Central to grant citizenship to the and Hajong refugees, mostly staying in "The Supreme order on Chakmas and Hajongs was discussed in the meeting. We need to implement the order as early as possible," a home ministry official said. Several organisations and civil society in have been opposing citizenship to the saying it would change the demography of the state. The Centre is trying to find a workable solution to the issue by proposing that and will not be given rights, including ownership of land, enjoyed by Scheduled Tribes in Arunachal Pradesh, the official said. However, they may be given Inner Line permits, required for non-locals in to travel and work. Chakmas and Hajongs were originally residents of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the erstwhile East They left their homeland when it was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s. The Chakmas, who are Buddhists, and the Hajongs, who are Hindus, also allegedly faced religious persecution and entered India through the then Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram). The Centre moved the majority of them to the North East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which is now According to officials, their numbers have gone up from about 5,000 in 1964-69 to one lakh.

At present, they don't have citizenship and land rights but are provided basic amenities by the state The approached the apex to review its 2015 order but in vain. After the Supreme Court's rejection, both the Central and state governments started consultations to find a solution to the issue. The initiative on the and comes amid the ongoing row over the Central government's plans to deport Rohingya Muslims, who came to India due to alleged persecution in Myanmar. Rijiju, who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, has said Rohingyas were illegal immigrants. He also said that India absorbed the maximum number of in the world. On Monday, in Geneva, UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein flayed any attempts by India to deport Rohingyas to Myanmar when the ethnic minority community was facing violence in their country.

First Published: Wed, September 13 2017. 16:29 IST