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  • Arunachal Pradesh

    1. Overview.. 1
    2. Discrimination against the Chakmas and Hajongs. 2
    a. Denial of the right to nationality. 2
    b. Denial of the right to franchise. 3
    c. Pathetic socio-economic conditions. 4
    3. Violence against women and children. 4
    4. Imminent displacement by dams. 5


    1. Overview

    Ruled by Indian National Congress, the State Government of Arunachal Pradesh continued to practice racial discrimination against the Chakmas and Hajongs.

    The State Government of Arunachal Pradesh and the Government of India have been blatantly violating the judgement of the Supreme Court of 9 January 1996 by not processing the citizenship applications of those Chakmas and Hajongs who had migrated to Arunachal Pradesh between 1964 and 1969. The State Government also dishonoured the direction of the Election Commission of India to enroll all the eligible Chakmas and Hajongs into electoral rolls as per the Section 3(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955.

    The basic facilities and amenities such as educational and healthcare facilities and the right to employment earlier withdrawn by the State Government have not been restored. As a result, the socio-economic conditions of the Chakmas and Hajongs remained highly pathetic.

    Many false cases have also been filed against the activists of the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP), which has been leading a democratic struggle for the citizenship rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs.

    As per the State Police records, a total of 2,262 crimes were committed during 2006. These included 60 murders, 34 attempt to murder, 75 kidnapping and abduction, 93 crimes against women including 37 rapes, 181 grievous hurt and nine under the Arms Act, among others.[1]

    Despite the establishment of the Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women in January 2005, the conditions of the women and children remained miserable in the State. The National Family Health Survey III (2005-2006) found that 38.8 per cent women in the State were victims of domestic violence,[2] and 41 per cent women were married off under the age of 18 years.[3] In a significant judgement on 7 December 2006, a Sessions Judge in Kurung Kumey district ruled that minor girls could not be married off as per the existing customs of the tribals.[4]

    The healthcare services remained poor and inadequate, especially in the remote areas. In 2006, as many as 96 persons reportedly died of malaria in the State. Yet, around Rs 64.91 lakhs meant for programmes to control malaria remained unspent or misused.[5]

    In February 2006, the State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three leading private companies namely Reliance Energy, Jaypee and DS Constructions for developing five mega hydro power projects in Siang valley.[6] In September 2006, the State government signed thre MoUs with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Limited (NHPC), for the construction of dams. These projects would result in displacement of hundreds of tribal peoples from their homes apart from destroying the bio-diversity.

    Arunachal Pradesh remained the only State in the country with no prison. There were 18 convicts by the end of July 2006. They were kept in prison of Asom, thereby contributing to the problem of overcrowding.[7]

    There was no separation of the judiciary from the executive. As on 30 June 2006, there were a total of 5,220 cases pending with the District and Subordinate Courts in the State.[8]

    2. Discrimination against the Chakmas and Hajongs

    Between 1964 and 1969, about 30,000 Chakma and Hajong tribals had migrated from then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) and settled in the then North Eastern Frontier Agency (NEFA), the present day Arunachal Pradesh. Until 1980, the Chakmas and Hajongs enjoyed all the facilities including employment as accorded to the fellow local tribals. But as anti-foreigner movement swept the North East, the Arunachal Pradesh Government withdrew these facilities from the Chakmas and Hajongs. Since 1991, the Chakmas and Hajongs have been fighting for citizenship rights under the leadership of the Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP). The situation had deteriorated since then.

    a. Denial of the right to nationality

    On 9 January 1996, the Supreme Court of India in its historic judgement in the case of National Human Rights Commission Vs State of Arunachal Pradesh and Anr (Civil Writ Petition 720 of 1995) directed the State government of Arunachal Pradesh to process the citizenship applications of those who migrated between 1964 and 1969. But not a single application out of 4,677 applications submitted since 1997 had been processed by the end of 2006. Many of the applicants have already died.

    This is nothing but contempt of the highest court of the country.

    b. Denial of the right to franchise

    In 2004, 1,497 Chakmas and Hajongs who were born in India were enrolled in the State's electoral rolls pursuant to the directions of the Election Commission of India. Yet, there had been no further progress to the process of enrolling other Chakmas and Hajongs who are citizens of India by birth under Section 3(1)(a) of the Citizenship Act, 1955 due to the apathy and racial discrimination being practized by the State Government against the Chakmas and Hajongs.

    On 23 March 2005, the Election Commission of India (ECI) issued an order for conduct of Intensive Revision in Arunachal Pradesh. The ECI also issued detailed guidelines to be complied with by the electoral officers during the conduct of the revision exercise.

    As stated in our India Human Rights Report 2006, in clear violations of the above guidelines, from day one of the revision process, the Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) and Assistant Electoral Registration Officers (AEROs) prescribed birth certificate as the only document for enrolment. Ignoring clause (e), the EROs and AEROs arbitrarily and illegally subjected all eligible Chakma and Hajong voters who have been issued electoral cards to undergo local verification irrespective of whether linkage as required under Guideline (d) (i) was established or not. 

    The Committee for Citizenship Rights of the Chakmas and Hajongs of Arunachal Pradesh (CCRCAP), an organization representing the Chakmas and Hajongs, complained to the Election Commission of India against gross and willful violations of the ECI Guidelines of 23 March 2005 by the EROs, AEROs and other concerned electoral officials of Arunachal Pradesh during the revision exercise.

    Taking cognizance of such gross violations of its guidelines, the Election Commission of India suspended publication of Draft Rolls in 46-Chowkham; 49-Bordumsa-Diyun and 50-Miao Assembly Constituencies inhabited by the Chakmas and Hajongs till the Election Commission of India decides on the issue. At the end of the year, the issue remained pending before the Election Commission of India. By the end of 2006, Election Commission of India failed to take a final decision.

    On 9 August 2006, the Gauhati High Court (Itanagar Permanent Bench) dismissed the three writ petitions [WP(C) No. 154 (AP) 2006], [WP(C) 155(AP) 2006] and [WP(C) 156(AP) 2006] challenging the order of the Election Commission of India of 2 January 2004 directing the concerned Electoral Registration Officers to include names of 1,497 Chakma and Hajong voters in the electoral rolls.

    c. Pathetic socio-economic conditions

    The socio-economic conditions of the Chakmas and Hajongs have been utterly pathetic. Since 1980s all rights enjoyed by the Chakmas and Hajongs have been withdrawn. During 1994-95, the State Government withdrew whatever services left to the Chakmas and Hajongs. It withdrew the Government Middle School at Bijoypur I under Bordumsa Circle; the only Government Primary School for seven villages at Bodhisatta village under Miao Circle; Government Primary School at M-Pen under Miao Circle; and all 49 Anganwadi nutrition centres from the Chakma and Hajong villages in Changlang, Lohit and Papumpare districts. Apart from the Government Primary Schools in a few of their villages, admissions were banned to the Chakma and Hajong students in all Government schools in the State.

    While in 2006 a new Primary School has been opened at M-pen village, neither the Middle School at Bijoypur nor the 49 Anganwadi nutrition centres have been re-opened despite repeated requests to the authorities. The Chakma and Hajong students continued to be denied admissions in the Government Higher Secondary School and two Government Primary Schools at Miao; Higher Secondary School in Bordumsa; and Higher Secondary schools in Namsai.

    The only assistance that the Chakmas and Hajongs were getting from the State Government was one or two teachers in each Government Primary Schools in 6 Chakma villages under Diyun Circle, 2 Government Primary Schools in Miao Circle in Changlang district and 1 Government Primary School in Chowkham Circle in Lohit district. The school buildings and teacher's residences were built by the parents' committees in each village.

    The Chakmas and Hajongs did not have access to basic healthcare services. No public development work was being undertaken in the Chakma and Hajong villages. There were no provisions for safe drinking water or electricity. Even kerosene oil which the villagers use to light lamps was not supplied to the Chakma and Hajong areas.

    Many false cases have been pending against the CCRCAP activists.

    3. Violence against women and children

    In January 2005, Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women was formed. But there had been little improvement in the plight of women in the State. They were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment, most particularly sexual exploitation in the name customs and traditions. As per the state police records, 93 crime against women including 37 rapes were registered during 2006.[9] The National Family Health Survey III (2005-2006) found that 38.8 per cent women were victims of domestic violence in the State.[10]

    Child marriage was common. According to the National Family Health Survey III (2005-2006), 41 per cent women were married off under the age of 18 in Arunachal Pradesh. The figure was 28 per cent during its earlier survey of 1998-99.[11]

    In a significant judgement delivered on 7 December 2006, a Sessions Judge in Kurung Kumey district ruled in favour of a Class XII girl, Yumbam Yaku who had moved the court asking to be freed from her marriage. Sessions Judge Repo Ronya ruled that the girl was not a party to the betrothal agreement as neither her consent was sought nor was she in a position to give consent at the time of her wedding. The court was also of the opinion that marriage could not be solemnised against the will of one of the concerned parties, citing the provisions of the Child Marriage Restraint Act, 1929. The petitioner, Yumbam Yaku was married off as a child to Bengia Kami in return for a bride price in the form of mithuns, cows and pigs, according to tribal practice.[12]

    4. Imminent displacement by dams

    Many dams were being built in Arunachal Pradesh. India's largest hydroelectric project, the Rs 6,285-crore Subansiri Lower Hydroelectric Project was being built by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) on river Subansiri on the border of Arunchal Pradesh and Asom. It is expected to be completed by August 2010.[13]

    In February 2006, the State Government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with three leading private companies namely Reliance Energy, Jaypee and DS Constructions for developing five mega hydro power projects in Siang valley.

    In September 2006, Arunachal Pradesh Government signed at least three Memorandum of Understandings with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) for implementations of hydroelectric projects by NHPC. The Projects included Tawang Hydroelectric Projects-I and II in Tawang district on Tawangchu river,[14] and the Dibang Multipurpose Project, which is a hydropower cum flood moderation scheme over Dibang river at Munli near Roing in Lower Dibang Valley district.[15] Another project, Sippi Hydroelectric Project on river Sippi in Upper Subansiri district was under active construction.[16]

    Theses dams will cause huge displacement of the tribal peoples apart from destroying bio-diversity.


    [1]. Crime Statistics of Arunachal Pradesh State police

    [2]. 37 p.c women face domestic violence; Bihar tops list, The Hindu, 4 March 2007

    [3]. Nearly 45 pc women married off before 18: NFHS, The Hindu, 24 February 2007

    [4]. Arunachal girl 'freed' from child marriage, The Telegraph, 13 December 2006

    [5]. Beyond Headlines, The Telegraph, 8 March 2006

    [6]. 5 Hydro power projects to come up in Arunachal, The Assam Tribune, 2 March 2006

    [7]. Arunachal is the only state with no prison, The Asian Age, 3 August 2006

    [8]. Court News,  July-September 2006, Supreme Court of India

    [9]. Crime Statistics of Arunachal Pradesh State police

    [10]. 37 p.c women face domestic violence; Bihar tops list, The Hindu, 4 March 2007

    [11]. Nearly 45 pc women married off before 18: NFHS, The Hindu, 24 February 2007

    [12]. Arunachal girl 'freed' from child marriage, The Telegraph, 13 December 2006

    [13]. National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd, http://www.nhpcindia.com/Projects/English/Scripts/Prj_Features.aspx?Vid=23

    [14]. http://nhpcindia.com/Projects/English/Scripts/Prj_Introduction.aspx?vid=130

    [15]. http://nhpcindia.com/Projects/English/Scripts/Prj_Introduction.aspx?vid=31

    [16]. http://www.nhpcindia.com/Projects/English/Scripts/Prj_Introduction.aspx?Vid=57

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