From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Chakmas and Hajongs
Mains level : Not Much
In Arunachal Pradesh, the Chakma and Hajong people are feeling heat since the State government decided to conduct a special census in December 2021.
What is the news?
- The North-Eastern States have had a history of being paranoid about outsiders outnumbering the indigenous communities and taking their land, resources and jobs.
- The threat from “non-locals” in a specific area has also been perceived to be from communities indigenous elsewhere in the region.
- This has often led to conflicts such as the recent attacks on non-tribal people in Meghalaya’s capital Shillong or an Assam-based group’s warning to a fuel station owner in Guwahati against employing Bihari workers.
Who are the Chakmas and Hajongs?
- The Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh are migrants from the Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.
- Displaced by the Kaptai dam on the Karnaphuli River in the 1960s, they sought asylum in India.
- They settled in relief camps in the southern and south-eastern parts of Arunachal Pradesh from 1964 to 1969.
- A majority of them live in the Changlang district of the State today.
- Mizoram and Tripura have a sizeable population of the Buddhist Chakmas while the Hindu Hajongs mostly inhabit the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and adjoining areas of Assam.
Why was a special census of the two communities planned?
- The Arunachal Government has cited to resolve the protracted issue of racial antagonism.
- It seeks to rehabilitate the Chakma-Hajongs in other States.
- The census plan was however dropped after the Chakma Development Foundation of India petitioned the PMO.
Issues with the census
- Chakma organizations said the census was nothing but racial profiling of the two communities because of their ethnic origin and violated Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
- It is against Article 1 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, ratified by India.
What is their citizenship status?
- Members of the two communities had been settled in Arunachal Pradesh six decades ago with a rehabilitation plan, allotted land and provided with financial aid depending on the size of their families.
- Although local tribes claim the population of the migrants has increased alarmingly, the 2011 census says there are 47,471 Chakmas and Hajongs in the State.
- They are granted citizenship by birth under Section 3 of the Citizenship Act, 1955, after having been born before July 1, 1987, or as descendants of those who were born before this date.