The AAPSU (All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union) visited Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh on June 17, 2018. The proceedings took off on a high note and the people, with much fanfare, high hopes and anticipation, looked forward to their visit. The local administration looked prepared for AAPSU’s visit and it was evident from how tight security measures were put in place well in time.
Meanwhile, the choicest of Chakma and Hajong people of Diyun led from the front by CCRCHAP (Committee for Citizenship Rights of Chakma and Hajong of Arunachal Pradesh) attired perhaps in their best clothes converged on the day at one of the choicest venues available in Diyun Circle, the circuit house compound intent on welcoming the AAPSU in the best possible manner which they did – it was a welcome in spirit accorded only to kings and princes. In the background, a sumptuous spread of local Chakma and Hajong dishes including special locally brewed drinks awaited which are usually offered only to those considered to be the most distinguished.
Before noon, a cavalcade of Scorpio cars carrying around 30 – 40 people in total parked themselves at the venue one after another. The onlookers understood that the AAPSU had finally arrived. Shortly after they stepped out of their cars, they again stepped into their cars and drove off to visit designated sites where major loss of land occurred due to floods caused by the marauding Noa-Dihing river, to be back again at the circuit house 1 hour or so later.
AAPSU were on a short visit to Diyun, Arunachal Pradesh where Chakma and Hajong are the majority inhabitants supposedly as part of undertaking confidence building measures and other initiatives with the view to find a parmenent solution to the demand for citizenship rights of CCRCHAP on behalf of the Chakma and Hajong migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan to India between 1964 – 1969 on the one hand and the incorrigible opposition of AAPSU on the other.
When the supposed talks or dialogue concluded, it was time for lunch. Some Chakma and Hajong people who were accompanying the AAPSU representatives during lunch time acknowledged that the latter truly appreciated the sumptuous spread of special delicacies and drinks of the Chakma and Hajong people and heartily enjoyed to their hearts’ content.
Right after the conclusion of the meeting, when AAPSU were coming out of the hall, the media persons grabbed the opportunity to catch up with them. However, despite CCRCHAP’s best efforts during the discussion to convince AAPSU to soften their stand on the contentious issue, the president of the student body, Hawa Bagang told the media persons, “As far as we are concerned, Chakma and Hajong people cannot be granted land rights and they cannot be granted citizenship rights while they stay in Arunachal Pradesh. In view of this, we have come here to talk and give them a token of love.”
The general secretary of AAPSU stated, “We have come to Diyun to ease out the impasse and we have categorically and responsibly said that if the Chakma and Hajong want to stay in Arunachal Pradesh, they need to have a recognised status and also they need to be regulated. Further, they cannot be on par with the indigenous people of the state. When they first came to Arunachal Pradesh they were some 14,000 people but today there has been an exponential growth of their population. Although the government gives the current figure of some 53,000 we contest the authenticity of this number. At best, they can be given the status of refugees and privileges thereof. AAPSU at any given point in time cannot accept the granting of citizenship to Chakma and Hajong people in Arunachal Pradesh.”
Another AAPSU representative said, “As far as AAPSU is concerned, the Chakma and Hajong people should accept defeat and go away from our state Arunachal Pradesh because their demand is for land which we cannot give to them at any cost.”
Looking back, AAPSU’s visit to Diyun was replete with ironies and contradictions. On the one hand, there is this incorrigible stand of AAPSU to continue to oppose and deprive the Chakma and Hajong people of their rights even after a few generations of rights-less existence while on the other, inviting AAPSU all the way to Diyun with the hope of having a truth-based and fruitful conversation on the Chakma-Hajong issue arguably turned out to be an utter disappointment and futile exercise as the only positive that AAPSU thought it worthwhile to make a mention of pertained to the local delicacies offered to them as distinguished guests.
Although there is hardly any connection between the truth, the underlying reality of the Chakma and Hajong people and the viewpoints and perception of AAPSU and their unrelenting opposition arising thereof, it is quite unfathomable to think how the latter is such a massive force to reckon with when it comes to successfully depriving the former of their rights. Or that, AAPSU owing to how they try to oppose the Chakma and Hajong people tooth and nail on the slightest pretext are merely a mental block and a decoy eclipsing the destination of these people, and also obscuring their vision thereby preventing them from realising in deed and spirit their rightful place as equal indigenous peoples of Arunachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile, while there is a fierce battle going on in the courtrooms between CCRCHAP and AAPSU, as they are embroiled in a number of court cases, the supposed dialogues in the form of Joint High Power Committee meetings and the one which just concluded in parallel stand in stark contrast.
As of today, it has perhaps been proven beyond doubt that the AAPSU is going to oppose Chakma and Hajong people and deprive them of their entitlements and rights. However, the moot question is that why do the Chakma and Hajong people of Arunachal Pradesh continue to be deprived of their rights despite several landmark Supreme Court and High Court judgements reiterating the cogency of their fundamental demands?