Stop ‘racial profiling’ of Chakmas in Arunachal: Tribal body

The Chakma Development Foundation of India (CDFI) on Monday urged the Arunachal Pradesh government to stop racial profiling of Chakmas in the state, claiming that “conducting of Census of only the Chakma tribal community in the state is illegal and unconstitutional”.

The CDFI also sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Kandhu and RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat to stop racial profiling of Chakma tribals.

The New Delhi-based CDFI requested Arunachal Pradesh’s Deputy Chief Minister Chowna Mein, who would visit the Chakma-dominated areas in Diyun on Tuesday, to intervene into the matter.

According to Chakma Rights and Development Organisation (CRDO), the Chakma and Hajong people were brought by the government of India from Chittagong Hill Tracts (now in Bangladesh) from 1964-68, who were rehabilitated in the then North East Frontier Agency (NEFA) that became Arunachal Pradesh later.

CDFI founder and prominent rights activist Suhas Chakma said that the officials of Arunachal Pradesh government have been conducting a Census of only the Chakmas in Changlang district.

Officials in Changlang had written letters earlier this month to the village heads to submit “a self-declared population detail of their respective villages with original and migrated settlers in the specimen format” in order to “prepare a consolidated data of all Chakma people”.

“Conducting Census of only the Chakmas is nothing but an act of racial profiling in clear violation of Article 14 of the Constitution and the international convention on the elimination of all forms of racial discrimination ratified by India,” Chakma said in a statement.

He said: “The Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh are citizens of India even though because of the discriminatory policies and practices of the state government, their citizenship applications have not been processed in the last 25 years in contempt of Supreme Court judgments, while those who are citizens by birth under the Citizenship Act, 1955 are not included in the electoral rolls. There is no law or logic to conduct a Census of only one community”.

The CDFI stated that the population growth rate of each community and inter-community marriages in Changlang district speak of a different reality, and it is only the Chakmas with the lowest population growth rate who are being singled out.

“If the state wants to conduct a Census, it must carry it out for the entire state, irrespective of caste, creed or religion. But the decision to conduct Census of only the Chakmas is illegal and unconstitutional and amounts to racial profiling,” it stated.