Clear stand on Chakma-Hajong refugees: AAPSU to Centre

Clear stand on Chakma-Hajong refugees: AAPSU to Centre

Protest in Arunachal Pradesh. (DH Photo)

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) on Friday demanded that the Centre and the state government should make their stand clear on the Chakma-Hajong refugees, who are likely to get citizenship status after passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both houses of the Parliament.

The apex students' body of the state has been spearheading the refugee issue for the past several decades. "We want a clear-cut answer from New Delhi whether the Chakma-Hajongs will remain as refugees or as citizens. If they (refugees) are given the citizenship status where will they be settled?" AAPSU president Hawa Bagang asked during a press conference here.

He said the people of the state have already bore the brunt of the refugee issue and time and again opposed it tooth and nail.

"We will launch rigorous movement in the state if the Centre plans to give citizenship status to the refugees and settle them in Arunachal. We will never accept it at any cost," Bagang said.

The AAPSU, being a constituent of North East Students' Organisation (NESO), had been opposing the 'controversial' Citizenship Amendment Bill (now amended Citizenship Act) from day one and would act as per the directive of its umbrella organisation, he added.

"The AAPSU is totally against the amended Citizenship Act and wants that the entire north east should be exempted from the purview of it as it will open floodgates for infiltration of immigrants to the region," Bagang said, adding, AAPSU has been fighting to safeguard the ethnicity, culture and languages.

Though Union Home Minister Amit Shah had given assurance to various stakeholders of the state at New Delhi on November 30, to include all applicable provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 and the Chin Hills Regulation, 1896, the AAPSU wants that the assurance should be implemented strictly so that the state is totally safeguarded along with other states of the region, Bagang said.

AAPSU General Secretary Tabom Dai informed that the union would continue to oppose the amended Citizeship Act.

The amended Citizenship Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there. They will be given Indian citizenship after residing in the country for five years, instead of 11 years which is the current norm.

Indigenous people of the Northeastern states are scared that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.

Various organisations of the region have launched a series of agitations against the amended Citizenship Act. 

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