50 nursing officers | Row over inclusion of Chakmas in COVID-19  tally  of  Arunachal

ITANAGAR, Jun 06: The All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) has asked the state government, particularly Changlang district authorities not to include Chakma and Hajong communities in state’s COVID-19 positive cases tally.

The Buddhist Chakmas and Hindu Hajongs were displaced from Chittagong Hill Tracts of erstwhile East Pakistan (present Bangladesh) by a hydroelectric project. A few fled religious persecution later, who were mostly settled in Changlang district in the 1960s.

“The Chakmas infected with COVID-19 have every right to avail healthcare facilities and essentials items, but they cannot be given an identity as Chakmas are not Arunachalese,” AAPSU vice-president Meje Taku told media persons here on Friday, adding “the state Govt should discuss with the Centre and put them on a separate refugee list.”

There is no clarity on how many Chakma and Hajong people are infected. But Changlang district has reported the bulk of state’s fresh cases – 28 out of total 45 active cases.

The AAPSU has also asked the Govt to declare Diyun, sub-division of that district with the highest concentration of Chakha-Hajong people, as a containment zone.

Guwahati report adds: Rights groups have panned the AAPSU’s demand as illogical.

“There is no word called ‘Arunachalese’ in the Constitution of India which defines people of Arunachal Pradesh into Schedule Tribes and non-tribals. The Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh, particularly the infected, are citizens of India by birth as per Section 3 of the Citizenship Act and they have been exercising the right to franchise in the elections,” said Suhas Chakma of Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group.

“By the illogical definition of the AAPSU, about 3,84,435 non-tribals as per 2011 census and all Indian soldiers serving in Arunachal Pradesh, including in Indo-China border also cannot be counted in Arunachal Pradesh in case of infections,” he added.

The Chakma and Hajong population in Arunachal Pradesh is believed to be more than 1 lakh.

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