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SC to centre: Grant citizenship rights to Chakmas, Hajongs in Arunachal

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Photo Credit: www.thehindu.com

By NewsGram Staff-Writer

New Delhi: The Union government and the Arunachal Pradesh government were directed by the Supreme Court on Thursday to confer citizenship rights on the “eligible” Chakmas and Hajong people. The SC also directed the governments to take proper measures for protecting the lives and liberty of those people and guard them against any kind of discrimination.

A Chakma refugee camp in North Tripura. Photo Credit: www.telegraphindia.com
A Chakma refugee camp in North Tripura. Photo Credit: www.telegraphindia.com

Allowing the petition by the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas (CCRC) of Arunachal Pradesh, a bench of Justice Anil R. Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in their judgment said: “We direct the government of India and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to finalize the conferment of citizenship rights on eligible Chakmas and Hajongs.”

The court said that the exercise for the grant of citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs people may be “completed at the earliest preferably within three months from today”.

Stating that it found merit in the contention of the petitioner CCRC, Justice Goel, pronouncing the judgment, said: “It stands acknowledged by this court on the basis of the stand of the government of India that the Chakmas have a right to be granted citizenship subject to the procedure being followed.”

“It also stands recognized by judicial decisions that they cannot be required to obtain any Inner Line permit as they are settled in the state of Arunachal Pradesh”, the court said.

Referring to history to drive the point that Arunachal Pradesh has been an integral part of India since ancient times, the court said that was “well known that the Chakmas and Hajongs were displaced from the area which became part of East Pakistan (now in Bangladesh) on construction of Kaptai Dam and were allowed to be rehabilitated under the decision of the government of India.”

“They need to be protected and their claims of citizenship need to be considered as per applicable procedure”, said the judgment, while referring to the earlier decisions of the apex court, Delhi High Court, and Gauhati High Court.

The judgement further added: “they could not be discriminated against in any manner pending formal conferment of rights of citizenship. Their status also stands duly a acknowledged in the guidelines of the Election Commission of India.”

(With inputs from IANS)

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