All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union says ‘discrepancy’ in the figures the authorities are providing is creating confusion

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has asked the Pema Khandu government to conduct a comprehensive survey to ascertain the number of refugees in the State.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 (CAA), made such a survey necessary though the government had claimed that the State was exempted from the purview of the amended law, the union said.

Arunachal Pradesh has three sets of refugees — the Bangladesh-origin Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs who stay together and the Buddhist Tibetans.

“We welcome Chief Minister Pema Khandu’s statement in the Assembly that the government would fight a legal battle against the granting of citizenship to the Chakma-Hajong refugees. We have also taken note of his assertion that neither the refugees can apply for citizenship nor the government can process their applications as Arunachal Pradesh is exempted from the CAA,” AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said.

But the union underlined the ‘discrepancy’ about the number of refugees that the authorities had been providing. “A comprehensive survey is thus required to clear the confusion,” one of its spokespersons said.

On January 8, Mr. Khandu told the 60-member Assembly that the State government had challenged the Supreme Court’s judgement on September 17, 2015, granting citizenship to the Chakma-Hajongs. But the apex court dismissed the government’s review petition on October 26 that year.

“The Supreme Court admitted a special leave petition that the State government had filed on September 14, 2016. The hearing is awaited,” he had said.

The Chief Minister had also reminded the House that the deputy commissioners of three districts had conducted a special survey of the Chakmas and the Hajongs in 2015-16. These refugees had been displaced by the Kaptai Dam and religious persecution in the erstwhile East Pakistan (Bangladesh) in the 1960s.

According to that survey, the three districts had 65,875 Chakmas and Hajongs. The number of Tibetan refugees across four districts — West Kameng, Lohit, Upper Siang and Changlang — was found to be 7,072 at that time.

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