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Citizenship rights demanded for Chakmas

By Spl Correspondent

NEW DELHI, Oct 11 - The All India Chakma Social Forum has demanded grant of citizenship rights to Chakma migrants, a demand that has been �denied� for nearly half a century.

A delegation of the Social Forum called on Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), Dr Jitendra Singh here on Monday.

In a memorandum submitted to the Minister, members of the delegation stated that during the period 1964-68, around 15,000 Chakmas had fled from the Chittagong Hill tracts of the then East Pakistan to escape the oppression of Pakistani rulers. After migration to India, they settled in the then Northeastern Front Agency (NEFA), currently Arunachal Pradesh.

However, the delegation members complained that not a single Chakma migrant in Arunachal Pradesh has been granted citizenship rights till date, despite specific directions of the Supreme Court of India issued on January 9, 2016 in the case of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) vs. State of Arunachal Pradesh and others. Later, following another writ petition, the Supreme Court in its judgment dated September 17, 2016, directed the Union of India and the State of Arunachal Pradesh to process the citizenship applications.

The memorandum also alleged that not a single application of any Chakma migrant had been recommended for grant of citizenship in spite of the applications fulfilling the criteria for citizenship. As a result, according to them, the Chakmas cannot move out of their villages because of lack of identity proof, which is necessary and is indispensable in the context of current security scenario.

Seeking intervention of the Minister, the signatories to the memorandum requested for designating two special officers in the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to address the issues raised by them and ensure early redressal.

Dr Jitendra Singh gave a patient hearing to the delegation and said that he would forward their case to the MHA and seek its views on the issue.

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