The Chakma-Hajong Issue: A Complex Struggle for Identity and Rights

The Chakma-Hajong Issue: A Complex Struggle for Identity and Rights

Exploring the Historical, Social, and Political Dimensions of the Chakma-Hajong Community's Quest for Recognition

The Central govt has not discussed anything over relocation of Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh to Assam: CM Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Chakmas and Hajongs:

  • They can be found in Bangladesh, Myanmar, West Bengal, and northeastern India.

  • They belong to an ethnic group that inhabited the Chittagong Hill Tracts, the most of which are in Bangladesh.

  • Hajongs are Hindus, and Chakmas are mostly Buddhists.

  • In 1964–1965, they left what was then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), traveled to India, and settled in Arunachal Pradesh.

  • A majority of them live in the Changlang district of the State (Arunachal Pradesh) today.

  • The Buddhist Chakmas are well represented in Mizoram and Tripura, whereas the Hindu Hajongs are primarily found in the Garo Hills of Meghalaya and the surrounding regions of Assam.

Reasons for settlement in Arunachal Pradesh:

  • The construction of the Kaptai Dam on Bangladesh's Karnaphuli River resulted in the loss of Chakmas' land.

  • Hajongs were neither Muslims and were not Bengali speakers, hence they were persecuted for their religion.

National Human Rights Commission vs State of Arunachal Pradesh:

  • 1996 Supreme Court judgement in the case of National Human Rights Commission vs State of Arunachal Pradesh, it stated that the “life and personal liberty of every Chakma residing within the State shall be protected”.

  • The State was ordered by the Supreme Court to grant them citizenship in 2015, but this hasn't happened yet.

Citizenship Status:

  • The Citizenship Act, 1955 states that about 60,500 of the 65,000 Chakmas and Hajongs are citizens by birth if they were born before July 1, 1987, or if they are the descendants of someone who was born before that date.

  • As a result of the 1996 Supreme Court order, the applications of the 4,500 surviving migrants have not yet been taken care of.

  • Having been permanently settled by the Union of India in the 1960s, the Chakma-Hajongs have nothing to do with the Citizenship (Amendment) Act of 2019, which altered two sections of the 1955 Act.

  • Additionally, the Inner Line Permit required by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 for outsiders wishing to visit the State does not apply to the migrants since the majority of them—95%—were born in the North-East Frontier Agency or Arunachal Pradesh.

Way forward:

  • Uphold the rule of law and respect Supreme Court judgments.

  • Cease exploitation of the Chakma-Hajong issue by politicians for personal or political gain.

  • Prioritize genuine resolution efforts over political maneuvering.

  • Implement policies that ensure justice and fairness for all parties involved.

  • Foster dialogue and collaboration between communities to promote reconciliation and mutual understanding.


Chakmas and Hajongs, originating from the Chittagong Hill Tracts, settled in Arunachal Pradesh due to land loss from the Kaptai Dam in Bangladesh. Despite a Supreme Court order, citizenship rights remain unresolved for many. Upholding the rule of law, addressing political exploitation, and fostering dialogue are crucial for resolving their citizenship status and ensuring justice.

Advait IAS