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Arunachal’s Chakma and Hajongs demand restoration of RPCs, stage protest at Jantar Mantar

First Published: 9th January, 2023 8:22 IST

The protestors accused the state government of neglecting the community, with the latest being the cancellation of their RPCs.

Hundreds of members from Arunachal Pradesh’s Chakma and Hajong communities staged a protest at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar on Sunday, demanding the restoration of their Residential Proof Certificates (RPCs) that were withdrawn by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh last year.

There are almost 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs permanently residing in Arunachal Pradesh.

The protestors accused the state government of neglecting the community, with the latest being the cancellation of their RPCs.

In a notice released by the Arunachal Pradesh government, Memo No. POL/CH-2/2022-23 dated October 27, 2022, directed the Deputy Commissioner of Changlang District to cancel all the Residential Proof Certificates (RPCs) issued in Changlang District since inception by issuing a speaking order.

The order further asked all DCs and ADCs, heads of department, and offices of the Government of Arunachal Pradesh “not to honour or entertain residential proof certificates” of the Chakmas and Hajongs.

Meanwhile, the government shall issue a Temporary Settlement Certificate (TSC) to the Chakmas and Hajongs after proper verification of their “Refugee Settlement Block.”

Following the order, members of the Chakma and Hajong communities slammed the move, stating that the community will be deprived of admission in educational institutions and livelihood, which will be the death knell for these two communities since the State of Arunachal Pradesh had already banned employment of Chakmas and Hajongs in the state long ago.

Arunachal Pradesh Chakma Students’ Union (APCSU) President, Drishya Muni Chakma, condemned the cancellation of the RPCs and stated, “The withdrawal of the residential proof certificate of Chakmas and Hajongs by the state government of Arunachal Pradesh is totally unlawful and unjust.”

“The action of the state government of Arunachal Pradesh to cancel our RPCs is totally illegal and inhuman. We would like to clarify that RPC does not in any manner take away, dilute, or infringe upon the rights and privileges of the local indigenous communities because RPC is not even entertained for state government employment. It is only used for education and livelihood purposes outside the state of Arunachal Pradesh,” the APCSU president further stated.

“Cancellation of the RPC document is nothing but a crime against humanity, as the decision will be a death knell for Chakmas and Hajongs. If the youths don’t get education or jobs due to a lack of a residential proof document, it will only deepen the existing vicious cycle of poverty. A high rate of unemployment among the youths will have adverse impacts on Chakmas and Hajongs, and this burden will be upon the society, the state government, and the country at large,” cautioned Sonjit Chakma, General Secretary, APCSU.

During 1964–1969, the Chakmas and Hajongs fled then East Pakistan due to religious persecution and displacement by the Kaptai hydroelectric dam, and they were permanently settled in the then North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), which is now the state of Arunachal Pradesh, by the Government of India under a “Defined Plan of Rehabilitation.”

The two student organisations have sought the support of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of India to convince the state government of Arunachal Pradesh to restore the RPC at the earliest possible time so that the future of the youth does not suffer.

Also Read: Chakma, Hajong bodies to launch ‘non-cooperation movement’ over RPC issue on Dec 30

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