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Cong slams Assam govt over Rijiju’s statement on Chakma-Hajong refugees

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Guwahati, April 23: Ahead of the second and third phase Lok Sabha elections in Assam, the Opposition Congress has slammed the BJP-led government in the state amidst Union minister Kiren Rijiju’s statement about discussions to relocate Chakma and Hajong refugees from Arunachal Pradesh to Assam after implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

Alleging that a “dangerous conspiracy” was being hatched against the state, Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Bhupen Kumar Borah said the statement, which was inadvertently disclosed in a media conference by Rijiju, who is a significant minister in the BJP-led government at the Centre, indicated that “the Assam government was now gearing up to take the burden and responsibility of resettling 5 lakh Chakma and Hajong refugees in the state.”

“Rijiju had stated that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) was a boon for Arunachal Pradesh, which would not accept any refugees from neighbouring countries,” the state Congress chief told reporters, while campaigning for the party’s candidate for the Barpeta Lok Sabha seat on Tuesday.

The Union minister had, while addressing the media in Itanagar on Monday, said that the Chakma-Hajong refugees were “staying as guests in Arunachal” and were therefore not entitled to get a permanent resident certificate (PRC) of citizenship in that state.

Borah further stated that the statement made by the Union minister in the BJP-led government would have a bearing on the second and third phase elections in the state on April 26 and May 7 respectively.

Meanwhile, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma however has denied any such talks on relocation of Chakma and Hajong refugees from the neighbouring state with central authorities.

“The central government has not engaged in any talks with Assam on the relocation of Chakma and Hajong refugees from Arunachal Pradesh to the state,” Sarma had reportedly claimed on Tuesday, while informing that no land was available in Assam for resettling the refugees.

Notably, Rijiju, who is an MP from Arunachal, had earlier stated that Chakma and Hajong refugees should be resettled outside Arunachal Pradesh before they are eligible for Indian citizenship under CAA.

Chakma and Hajong refugees, predominantly Buddhists and Hindus respectively, have been residing in Arunachal Pradesh since the 1960s.

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