Chakma and Hajong Refugees
- The Union government is considering granting citizenship to over a lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees, who have been living in India for over 50 years.
- The Chakmas and Hajongs lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, and had to flee when their land was submerged by the Kaptai dam project in the 1960s.
- Chakmas are predominantly Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus. They are found in northeast India, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.
- Why are they called refugees?
- The Chakmas and Hajongs living in India are Indian citizens. Some of them, mostly from Mizoram, live in relief camps in southern Tripura due to tribal conflict with Mizos. These Indian Chakmas living in Tripura take part in Mizoram elections too. The Election Commission sets up polling booths in relief camps.
- In the 1960s, the Chakma refugees were accommodated in the relief camps constructed in the “vacant lands” of Tirap, Lohit and Subansiri districts of the erstwhile North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), a political division governed by the Union government.
- In 1972, NEFA was renamed Arunachal Pradesh and made a Union Territory, and subsequently, it attained statehood. The locals and regional political parties opposed re-settling refugees in their land fearing that it may change the demography of the State and that they may have to share the limited resources available for them.