Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Citizenship Bill: Chakma and Hajong communities in a spot

Why in news?

  • The Chakma community is facing protests in Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram , after the recent passage of Citizenship (Amendment) bill in Lok Sabha.

Background

  • After hearing a plea from the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas, Supreme Court in 2015, directed the Centre to grant citizenship to Chakma and Hajongs.
  • Following this, the Centre introduced amendments to the Citizenship Act, 1955. and brought Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
  • The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to six minority communities i.e. Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians without valid documents from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of stay in India.
  • The bill was recently passed in the Lok Sabha on 8 January, 2019.

Note: Though cleared for citizenship now, they can’t own land in Arunachal and will have to apply for Inner Line Permits

Why protests?

  • The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in Lok Sabha on 8th January 2019.
  • The bill if passed by Parliament will also give citizenship rights to Chakmas and Hajongs refugees.
  • Thus, they are facing opposition in the refugees’ main home state of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram, on claims that the move will change the demographics of the mostly tribal state.
  • Other N.E. states are also protesting against this Bill fearing threat to their cultural and linguistic identity. It will also defeat various other regulations like Assam Accord and Naga Accord.

About Chakmas and Hajongs:

  • From where did they came?
    • Chakmas and Hajongs came to India from the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), having lost their homes and land to the Kaptai dam project (Karnaphuli river) mid-1960s.
    • They also faced religious persecution Out of those who reached India, some stayed in Lushai Hills district of Assam (now Mizoram) and others moved to present day Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Religion: Chakmas are Buddhists, while Hajongs are Hindus
  • Language: Chakmas’ is close to Bengali-Assamese; Hajongs speak a Tibeto-Burman tongue written in Assamese

  • They are found in northeast India, West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

 

Other issues involved with the Citizenship Bill, 2016:

  • Against Assam accord: This will breach the clauses of the historic Assam Accord, which states that all illegal foreigners who came to the state after 1971 from Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.
  • Non-Secular: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 imagines India as a Hindu homeland, which is a refutation of the constitutional idea of the republic. It has been seen by experts as a move to endorse Hindus from Bangladesh who migrated to Assam after 1971.
  • Against Article 14: The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees right to equality.
  • Cancellation of OCI: The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offences.

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