A State of the Stateless People: A Case Study of Chakmas


This comprehensive observe explores problems relating the ‘stateless’ fame of the ethnic Buddhist Chakma refugees in the Indian kingdom of Arunachal Pradesh, who in the beginning belonged to the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHTs). What sets it aside is its holistic evaluation of the social records of the Chakmas from the colonial duration onwards. While studying and emphasizing the present day plight of the Chakmas in India as stateless refugees, it increases the concomitant query of what it takes to qualify as residents of a cutting-edge postcolonial nation. Setting a new size in refugee research, the arguments in this e-book are developed on the framework of oral narratives, incorporating the self perceptions of the Chakmas in addition to the human beings of the host country. Stateless in South Asia: The Chakmas among Bangladesh and India examines countrywide and global respectable documents and coverage statements to significantly examine the absence of felony-institutional and legislative systems to cope with the worries of refugees both at nearby and countrywide stages. While its middle difficulty revolves across the socio-political popularity of the Chakmas, it also highlights pertinent problems concerning ‘statelessness’ in South Asia in popular. Some of these are: The present academic and political conceptions of nationalism, citizenship and ethnicity; Partition, boundary-making and state formation.


The Chakmas represent one of the ethnic groups of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (C H T’s), where ninety-eight percent of the population of the hill location are the indigenous people of Mongoloid inventory until the Muslim infiltrators swamped over the area. The Chakma ethnic businesses are the maximum dominant and crucial tribe. They are Buddhist by way of faith. They belong to a tribal extended family of the Tibe to – Burman race and came to the location when Burmans destroyed the Arakan Kingdom. Arakanese dissidents who were towards the Burmese management took refuge as refugees inside the Chittagong Hill Tracts. After the partition of the country, the C H T changed into annexed to Pakistan. Some of them stood in opposition to the coverage of the Government of Pakistan due to the fact they were suppressed and many of them had to cross the border and input into India and Burma for the safety of their lives and family. Later on, Pakistan Government took the coverage of putting in place of a Hydro Electric Project over the river Karnaphuli inside the C H T. The high water degree of Kaptai Hydro Electric Project inundated a full-size Chakma inhabited location. So thousands of the Chakma families had been uprooted and they needed to take shelter by way of crossing the border and entered into India and Burma because many instances the Chakmas had to face the hassle torn situation within the C H T by way of a section of Muslim human beings and the Government there failed to shield them. The Chakmas started a movement for autonomy within the C H T areas of present Bangladesh. After a lengthen motion of the Chakmas, they were given an autonomy within the C H T. During the movement of the Chakmas for autonomy, the then Government of Pakistan (Bangladesh) followed suppressive and oppressive measures on the Chakmas.  As a end result of which many Chakma human beings left their unique place of origin and came to India, mainly inside the North Eastern States like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Tripura, Meghalaya etc. A huge wide variety of Chakma people took refuge in the Refugee Camps in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Mizoram. They commenced refugee existence here and a lot of them settled here. They lived protracted refugee lifestyles which ruined their identity and wealthy culture. They are tormented by poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and political Identity crisis in North East of India. The Government of India, the Government of Mizoram, The Human rights fee, Various social corporations, Supreme Court, NGOs and diverse different establishments and Individuals ought to come ahead to their assist.

Historical Background

The Chakmas and the Hajongs were initially citizens of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh). The creation of the Kaptai Hydroelectric Dam at the Karnaphuli river resulted of their large scale displacement. This, coupled with huge non-secular persecution forced them to migrate to India from East Pakistan. They entered India within the early 1960s via the Lushai Hills district (present-day Mizoram).

The Central government of India gave settlement regions to the Chakma-Hajong populace inside the Tirap department of North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA) (now a part of Arunachal Pradesh) so as to avoid any conflict with the indigenous population of Mizoram.

Since then, a shift in the political repute of Arunachal Pradesh, and the continuing upward push of the Chakma-Hajong population, has brought about a growing sense of resentment among the indigenous population.

Opposition against the Settlement of Refugees in Arunachal Pradesh

The NEFA vicinity became first of all without any elected authorities or representatives. It became most effective after the NEFA turned into made a Union Territory in 1972 that numerous political parties emerged. By the time Arunachal Pradesh became made a kingdom in 1987, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) had constructed up a robust movement in opposition to giving refuge to the Chakmas and Hajongs [2]. There had been robust emotions of prejudice the various indigenous ethnic agencies, specifically the Adis, Mishmis, Khamtis and Singphos, in opposition to the refugee communities [3]. They were anxious that the Chakmas and Hajongs might outnumber them and dominate the future politics of the country.

Chakma-Hajong settlement: Centre Conflict with State

By the 1980s, the settlement of the Chakmas and the Hajongs in Arunachal Pradesh became a cause of contention between the Centre and the State in Northeast India [3]. In a private member’s resolution, the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly urged the state government to take steps to propel the expulsion of the Chakma refugees from the region.

Thus, while the Central Government supported the Chakma and Hajong refugees in Arunachal Pradesh, the state government, on the other hand, took various measures against them, such as the withdrawal of scholarships and book grants, and the denial of hostel facilities and admission to schools outside of their inhabited areas.

The Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly passed resolutions in December 1992 and September 1994, demanding the immediate deportation of refugees from Arunachal Pradesh. On the contrary, the Government of India ruled out the possibility of their deportation from the state, reiterating that the Chakmas and the Hajongs were eligible for grant of citizenship under Section 5(i)(a) of the Indian Citizenship Act of 1955 [4].

Human Rights Violations

Due to increasing incidents of social discrimination and monetary boycott towards the Chakma and Hajong communities, the Committee of Citizenship Rights for the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP) became shaped 1991 to voice the call for citizenship rights of these organizations [5]. The scenario have become a long way extra complex while the Chakma and Hajong communities have been served with ‘Quit Arunachal Pradesh’ notices by the AAPSU in 1994, main to large agitations within the state. A resolution becomes passed by the political leaders of Arunachal Pradesh, led through the then Chief Minister Gegong Apang, pointing out that they will resign from the countrywide party membership if those groups had been no longer deported by December 31, 1995 [5]. The resolution additionally prohibited all social interaction among the local Arunachalees and the Chakmas-Hajongs.

The authorities of Arunachal Pradesh has systematically denied the Chakma and Hajong communities get admission to social, economic, and political rights, rights to which they were entitled beneath each Indian and global law [6]. India has now not signed the 1951 Refugee Convention,  which presents identification files, administrative help, rationing (Article 20) , basic education (Article 22) , and public comfort and assistance (Article 23) . However, it must be cited that the Government of India has identified refugees from Tibet and Sri Lanka in the past, supplying them with identity documentation and loose training.

The National Human Rights Commission moved to the Supreme Court in 1996, pleading for the protection of lives and houses of the Chakma and Hajong refugees, in view of the AAPSU motion. The Supreme Court, in its judgment on January nine, 1996, directed the Arunachal Pradesh government to make certain safety of existence and private liberty of each Chakma and Hajong living inside the nation. The Apex Court also directed the country government to just accept programs for Indian citizenship submitted with the aid of the Chakma and Hajong groups under Section 5 of the Indian Citizenship Act [7].

The Central government set up the S.B. Chavan Committee in 1995 to investigate the state of affairs, which endorsed the granting of Indian citizenship to the Chakma and Hajong refugees. The Committee determined to organize a 4-party speak a number of the representatives of AAPSU, CCRCAP, the Central Government, and the State Government on this problem. However the AAPSU strongly condemned the guidelines of the Chavan committee, and the provision of imparting citizenship to those refugees persisted to lie dormant.

The Issue of Livelihoods

The youth from the Chakma and Hajong groups aren’t entitled to authorities jobs because of their refugee fame. This has left them with confined livelihood alternatives, primarily confined to agricultural and non-farm sports. The loss of livelihood options has pressured a big wide variety of the knowledgeable populace to emigrate to metro towns together with Delhi, Kolkata, and Bangalore. Here they may be frequently hired in casual quarter jobs, which include salespeople in stores, manufacturing unit workers or safety guards. Those who cannot manage to pay for to transport outdoor the country normally work in the agriculture fields of neighboring Sinophobe and Tangshan Naga tribes on a share-crop device [7].

The Chakma-Hajong refugees have been generally allocated land at the banks of the Noa-Dihing River. At the time of settlement, every own family changed into allocated 5 acres of land. However, the erosion problem in a number of the villages has left them with an acute problem in acquiring livelihoods. Over the years, agriculture has come to be much less remunerative due to pressure because of rising populations in the region [7]. The refugees are also denied ration cards underneath the Public Distribution System, which has pushed them into a country of intense poverty.

What was the Supreme Court order?

In September 2015, the court, after hearing a petition filed by the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas, directed the State government to grant citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs within three months. The State government had opposed the move in court. After giving a statement that the order had to be honored, Mr. Rijiju changed his stand and said it was not implementable. He clarified that since the Home Ministry was the implementing authority for granting citizenship, it would approach the Supreme Court to modify its order.

Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to provide citizenship to refugees from minority communities, namely Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, Christians and Buddhists, after six years of live in India. This created a hostile scenario, in particular in the states of North-East. The indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh, along with several civil societies and the AAPSU, are in sturdy competition of the Bill, because the Chakma and Hajong refugees might additionally obtain citizenship upon the passage of this Bill.

The severe opposition from the indigenous communities is due to their tussle over land and sources. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will provide the Chakma and Hajong refugees all constitutional rights, including ownership of land. All political events of Arunachal Pradesh unanimously oppose the demand of citizenship by way of the refugee populace given that, except stretching available resources it’d alternate the demographic composition of the kingdom, and threaten the identification and lifestyle of the indigenous people, in particular the smaller tribes of the area [8]. Many additionally agree with that the Chakma and Hajong groups will subsequently demand Scheduled Tribe (ST) status, with a view to cause discounts within the number of seats reserved for the indigenous tribes in schooling and government jobs.

Keeping in thoughts the grievances of the Chakma-Hajong human beings, the Central Government proposed the idea of ‘Limited Citizenship’ to the refugee population. This provision will provide the refugees with Indian citizenship without any land ownership rights or a Scheduled Tribe repute. However, the AAPSU and various civil societies have demanded that the government perceive the Chakma and Hajong communities who got here to the NEFA from 1964 to 1969 before granting them citizenship rights. This is much like the National Registrar of Citizen (NRC) system in Assam. With the nation government of Arunachal Pradesh taking a stand completely in opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, an ambiguous path lies ahead for the Chakma-Hajong refugees.

Reasons for Which the Government of Failed to Deliver Justice to the Chakma Refugees The constitutional law favours furnish of Indian citizenship to these Chakmas. As a critical difficulty, the Central Government has also specific jurisdiction over the problem of citizenship right. The Indian states aren’t as powerful because the federal states of the United States. In most instances, they’re sure to comply with the directives of the Central Government mainly all through enforcement of legal guidelines emanating from the Union and Concurrent Lists . The Supreme Court is the best of Court of regulation in India. The country administration of Arunachal Pradesh defied the order of the Supreme Court and acted in opposition to the instructions of the Central Government in shielding the fundamental rights of the Chakmas. But such violation did no longer invite any motion from the Government of India towards the administration of Arunachal Pradesh. Why did the Indian Government fail to implement the judgment of the Supreme Court and supply justice to the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh? The non-stop connection with the existence of “Inner Line Regulation” in NEFA even at some point of the time of Chakma agreement by means of the government of Arunachal Pradesh created criminal complexity in managing trouble. The lifestyles of ethnic sensitivity in Northeast India consisting of Arunachal Pradesh had additionally inspired the decision makers of the Indian Government in this regard. Another factor became the involvement of parochial political pursuits of the 2 fundamental national political events-the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which formed and run the Union Government within the last one and 1/2 decade. The important management of these two political events expressed sympathy to the purpose of the Chakmas at national degree11 However; the nearby leaders of Arunachal Pradesh antagonistic their valuable management on this regard. No disciplinary action became taken against the defiant leaders of the nation. Instead, these political parties paid utmost importance to their respective political pursuits inside the kingdom. The state birthday celebration leadership exploited this example in their favour. They realized the significance of overt or covert assist of the Central Government to preserve their competition towards the Chakmas‟ agreement in Arunachal Pradesh and make it and difficulty of politics. When the first National Democratic Alliance (NDA) become in energy, Gagang Apang, the then Chief Minister, defected the INC with a big wide variety birthday party supporters and legislators and joint the BJP and formed the BJP authorities within the state for the primary time. The BJP, whose critical management constantly confirmed sympathy to the Chakmas, did now not utter any phrase in opposition to the Mr. Apang led BJP government, when it meted inhumane remedy to the Chakmas. During 2004 General Election, the INC led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) got here to energy. Mr. Apang again took an opportunist stand. He rejoined the INC and winning the election, he have become the Chief Minister. Therefore, the INC became in power both inside the Centre and in the nation of Arunachal Pradesh. But, the imperative Congress leadership maintained an ambivalent stance and decided now not to damage the sentiment of the nation Congress leaders through putting pressure on the issue of the Chakma imbroglio. Therefore, parochial interests of these two primary political parties also factored in pre-empting the Union Government to a more volume to take effective measures to supply justice to the Chakmas The Chakma leadership of Arunachal Pradesh become additionally extensively responsible for their cause. The Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP) is Delhi based totally. The movement at home became no longer organised at an expected and required degree. Instead, the CCRCAP favored the direction of felony struggle to set up justice. Many in their leaders are now running in one of a kind government and non authorities sectors outside Arunachal Pradesh. They offer no time to the CCRCAP as they did once. Therefore, the fragmented and vulnerable management of the Chakmas could not mildew strong public opinion of their favour and exert required stress at the political govt to clear up their trouble.


They lived extended refugee lifestyles which ruined their identification and wealthy tradition. They are affected by poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and political Identity crisis. The tribe is neither represented politically to the Parliament nor the State Assemblies except Mizoram where they have their personal Chakma Autonomous District Council. (CADC) In Mizoram, even though they have got their very own Autonomous District Council but nonetheless they are no longer capable of enjoying all of the rights and facilities. Their identity and wealthy folks cultures, customs and traditions are on the verge of destroying in lots of components of India. Their system of marriage, food habits, dress behavior, social customs and rituals have modified to a super quantity. They are in crisis. The Government of India, the Government of Mizoram, the Human rights fee, Various social companies, the Supreme Court, NGOs and diverse other corporations and Individuals ought to come ahead to their assist. In North East of India, they are nonetheless living a refugee life with no rights and centers. They ought to stay like residents. We must come ahead and help them in getting their voting rights and in order that the refugee tag is deleted from their call. They must not be known as stateless people. Their Identity must be blanketed.

This article is written by Puja Kumari and Praveen Kumar Yadav, 4th-year student of Law at Galgotias University. 

Also Read – Refugee Crisis In The Modern Day World

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