In a welcome development for Chakma and Hajong refugees, the central government has planned to bring them into the mainstream by granting them Indian citizenship. It may be recalled that the Chakma and Hajong refugees had crossed over to India from East Pakistan, around five decades back. Currently, these people are around 1 lakh in number and living in various camps in the northeast. The decision to provide Indian citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees was taken today during a high-level meeting organized by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. The meeting was attended by other key people such as Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval among others.
Earlier, in 2015, the Supreme Court had directed the government to look into the needs of Chakma and Hajong refugees, especially those residing in Arunachal Pradesh. The Supreme Court directive was discussed during the meeting and a unanimous decision was taken to provide Indian citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees. The decision has been taken even when several organizations in the northeast have been protesting against giving citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees. The Chakmas are Buddhists whereas the Hajongs are Hindus. They had left their original homeland after they faced religious persecution.