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Arunachal: MHA, Government ordered to take action against racial profiling, relocation of Chakma, Hajong community 

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The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on January 24, ordered the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and the Arunachal Pradesh government to submit an action taken report against the racial profiling and relocation of people belonging to the Chakma and Hajong communities.

NHRC orders MHA and Government:

The order was based on a complaint filed by the New Delhi-based Chakma Development Foundation of India, which had given the government six weeks to ensure the protection of human rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs.

The foundation had sought the NHRC’s intervention against the racial profiling of 65,000 Chakma and Hajong tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh through an “illegal census” that was scheduled from December 11, 2021, for their deportation, expulsion or relocation from the State.

Settlement of the Chakmas and Hajongs:

Replaced by a dam in erstwhile East Pakistan, the Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs were settled in Arunachal Pradesh in the 1960s. Of some 65,000 people belonging to these two communities today, 60,500 are citizens by birth while the citizenship applications of 4,000 migrants are yet to be processed.

The Supreme Court had in January 1996 declared the Chakmas and Hajongs as citizens and directed the Centre and the State government to process their citizenship applications. A similar judgement was pronounced in September 2015 after the matter was not sorted out.

The foundation, in its appeal to the NHRC, also referred to Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s announcement on August 15, 2021, that the Chakmas and Hajongs would be relocated outside the State. The proposed “census” of the two communities, the foundation said, was a follow-up of that announcement.

“The recent measures with respect to the Chakmas and Hajongs are contrary to the laws of the land. Instead of complying with the Supreme Court judgments, the State government initiated their racial profiling while Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju has been repeatedly advocating their forcible relocation,” the foundation’s Suhas Chakma said.

The Chakmas:

The Chakma people are a tribal group from the eastern-most regions of the Indian subcontinent. They are the largest ethnic group in the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of southeastern Bangladesh, and the second-largest in Mizoram, India (Chakma Autonomous District). Other places in Northeast India also have significant Chakma populations. Around 10,0000 Chakmas live in Arunachal Pradesh, India; a first generation migrated there in 1964 after the Kaptai Dam tragedy. Also, 40,000-50,000 Chakmas live in Tripura, India, and 20,000-30,000 in Assam, India.

The Chakma are genetically and phenotypically linked with the peoples of East Asia, but the Chakma language is part of the Indo-Aryan language family of the Indian subcontinent, and closely related to the Bengali language predominant near the areas in which they live. 

Most of the Chakma people today adhere to Theravada Buddhism, due to 19th-century reforms and institutionalization by Queen regnant Rani Kalindi. In Myanmar, Chakma people are known as Daingnet people. Some Bengalis with East Asian features self-identify as having some Chakma heritage.

The Hajongs:

The Hajong people are an ethnic group from Northeast India and northern parts of Bangladesh. The majority of the Hajongs are settled in India and are predominantly rice farmers. They are said to have brought wet-field cultivation to Garo Hills, where the Garo people used slash and burn method of agriculture. Hajong have the status of a Scheduled Tribe in India and are the fourth largest tribal ethnicity in the Indian state of Meghalaya.

The Hajongs belong to the Bodo-kachari group of tribes, native to the Indian Subcontinent. They are one of the least studied endogamous Bodo-Kachari tribes having a trans-border international presence in Northeastern India and Bangladesh. The Hajongs have no recorded history and whatever historical references available are in the form of legends, folktales and traditional beliefs. 

The Hajong language was originally a Tibeto-Burman language,[16] but is now considered an Indo-Aryan language with Tibeto-Burman roots. It is spoken by more than 175,000 ethnic Hajongs. It is written in the Eastern Nagari script. It has a lot of Sanskrit loanwords.

ALSO READ: ARUNACHAL BRAND AMBASSADOR SANJAY DUTT SIGNS MEDIA CAMPAIGN FOR 50 YEARS OF ARUNACHAL CELEBRATIONS

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