From our correspondent
Itagar, Dec 3: Aruchal Pradesh Chief Minister bam Tuki convened a high level meeting on the Chakma-Hajong refugee imbroglio with representatives of the All Aruchal Pradesh Student’s Union (AAPSU) here on Tuesday. “So long as I am at the helm of affairs in Aruchal Pradesh, I will always try to protect the rights of Aruchalees,” said Tuki while stating that he understands the gravity of the situation.
Observing that the process of granting citizenship to Chakma and Hajong refugees has not been discussed in the state cabinet, Tuki directed the government officials present at the meeting to place it before the next cabinet meeting, a communiqué informed here today. The chief minister also agreed to set up a nodal agency or a separate department for refugees, and called for exploring the possibility of clubbing it together with the border affairs department.
Miffed at the Supreme Court verdict on granting citizenship to the Chakma-Hajong refugees, and its subsequent dismissal of the state government’s review petition, home minister Tanga Byaling assured that the state government will give protection to the indigenous communities under legal and customary laws.
“Aruchal Pradesh’s is a community land; therefore every stakeholder should understand the gravity of the sentiments of the people,” Byaling added.
Resenting the unilateral verdict of the SC, AAPSU president Kamta Lapung questioned the state government officials on the reasons for the dismissal of the review petition filed against the SC verdict. Core Committee on Chakma-Hajong chairman Gumjum Haider expressed apprehension over the future consequences if citizenship is granted to Chakma-Hajong refugees by the Centre, undermining the legal and constitutiol provisions of the land.
“Though the apex court has dismissed the review petition, this is not the end of the road for us,” said advocate general Ranji Thomas, adding that “we still have legal provisions available with us”.
Expressing appreciation for the AAPSU’s efforts on the vexed issue, he said, “The first move will be to file a curative petition in the SC, likely to be heard by five judges.” Earlier, AAPSU general secretary Biru si submitted a representation to the chief minister, which included the demand for creating a separate department or nodal agency for refugees; for directing deputy commissioners of the affected districts to not initiate the process of granting citizenship to refugees; and for eviction of refugees from reserved forests. Among others, principal home secretary Dharmendra Kumar, home secretary Joram Beda, law secretary Onit Panyang, political secretary to chief minister, Bamang Tago and chief secretary Ramesh Negi were present at the meeting.