Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State for Home Affairs, Govt of India and an MP from Arunachal Pradesh has taken to Facebook to tell people of Arunachal Pradesh that Chakmas have not been given any citizenship. Chakmas are Buddhists from Bangladesh and Myanmar who have come to India and have settled in many states of North East India putting a doubt on the Indian security which is already grappling with the challenge thrown by Rohingyas. Many from the community are demanding a status as Scheduled Tribe community which will enable them to get the reservation in jobs.
It is a sensitive issue in Arunachal Pradesh and Kiren Rijiju explained it in the following words:
“My brothers and sisters of Arunachal Pradesh,
Please don’t believe the rumours of those who already sold Arunachal Pradesh to the refugees. I’m more responsible to stand for my people than others because I’m elected by the people. Fact is, Ministry of Home Affairs has not granted Citizenship to Chakmas but preparing papers to respond to Supreme Court which gave the order to grant Citizenship. Arunachal Pradesh govt has also rejected all the applications of the refugees so far. Although the refugees have illegally increased their population & encroached large lands in last 50 years but now we won’t allow it as long as I’m there as MP & Minister. Unlike some people I never used refugee issue to become a leader but I’ve been elected by the people on the basis of my commitment to serve the people. CM Pema Khandu ji has also committed to MHA to ensure proper enumeration so that the illegal refugees will be checked. Hence I expect people to solidly stand behind me and the State Govt to prevent the refugees from acquiring the status of native Arunachalees.”
In a scathing remark made on September 13, Kiren Rijiju had said:
“Congress Govt made a mistake by settling Chakmas & Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh since 1964. These unfortunate refugees from Bangladesh should have been settled in areas which are non-protected. After more than 5 decades Supreme Court has ordered to grant them Citizenship with full status of Arunachal Pradesh. While SC order is binding our Govt will protect the rights of indigenous people and the ST status won’t be diluted at any cost. Though damage is been done 54 years back we won’t allow more damage.”
In May this year, Kiren Rijiju told Chakmas and Hajongs to not protest against his stance and told them:
“I appeal the Chakmas & Hajongs not to campaign against me in Delhi. The then Congress govt while settling refugees in NEFA undermined BEF Regulation 1873 which provides for Inner Line Permit. For so many years Ministry of Home Affairs & various national bodies treated indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh as villain without realising their rights. As per SC order Govt will provide all necessary protections & status with facilities toChakmas & Hajongs anywhere in India but Arunachal Pradesh is a protected State. Blaming me is no point as I’m elected to safeguard Arunachal people’s rights. I’ve full respect for human rights, human values & understand your tragedy but Indigenous rights must not be crushed too. We can’t follow the Congress policy so Home Ministry is only opposing APST status.”
There are also appeals made by several groups from the North East to send Chakmas back to Bangladesh and Myanmar which have fallen on deaf ears.