In A Turnabout, Minister of State, Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday that the Supreme Court order to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees is “unimplementable”. His statement comes a week after the Home Ministry stated that it will honour the apex court order and give limited citizenship to nearly 1 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees settled in Arunachal Pradesh since 1964.
On Tuesday, Rijiju said, “The decision to grant citizenship is not of the Home Ministry, but it is the order of the Supreme Court. We have to soon impress upon the Supreme Court that this anomaly has to be rectified as this is a violation of the constitutional rights of the tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh. We will seek a modification in the order.”
His statement comes in the wake of protests in the hill state and CM Pema Khandu’s letter to Home Minister Rajnath Singh, urging him to “protect the tribal rights” and secure “the sanctity of inner line permit (ILP)”.
The Arunachal Pradesh government had earlier approached the apex court seeking a review but did not get relief. Khandu in his letter on Monday cited the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873, currently known as Inner Line Permit, and said “the people of my state are not ready to accept any infringement on the constitutional protection bestowed on the tribals of Arunachal Pradesh…”
The Supreme Court in 2015 had directed the Centre to grant citizenship to the Chakma-Hajong refugees within three months, but the move was delayed as the state government went for an appeal.
Rijiju, who belongs to Arunachal Pradesh, said he has every right to stand for the people of the state as he represents them and said “the Gauhati HC order stating that Chakmas and Hajongs do not require ILP has further complicated the entire process”. Blaming the Congress for settling the refugees in a tribal-dominated state, Rijiju said, “There were originally 2,700 families settled in Arunachal Pradesh by the then Congress government from 1964-69. The settlement was not as per regulations. The settlement by Congress violates the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 or the Inner Line Permit system.”