Border Creation, Citizenship and Identity: A Case Study of the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh

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The study attempts to investigate and analyze how the creation of post colonial borders impact the political status and identity construction of people crossing the borders and in the process how do these communities perceive the ideas of citizenship. The study is based in South Asia, making of its post colonial borders, resulting in sparking issues of majority and minority; native and settler; insider and outsider. This process resulted in large numbers of minority groups who were compelled to leave their countries of origin and they were neither accepted as citizens in the country of origin nor in their country of residence. Thus, many lingered as stateless people with no political status nor any rights and benefits. One such community is the Chakmas of the Chittagong Hill Tracts who migrated to India from East Pakistan due to religious persecutions and submergence of their arable land due to construction of Kaptai Hydel Dam. The Chakmas make continuous efforts to determine their status, rights and identity. In 1964, a large number of Chakma people migrated to India and were resettled by the Union Government of India in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. The Chakmas are still claiming for their political status, rights and identity even after more than six decades of their migration from Chittagong Hill Tracts (part of erstwhile East Pakistan) to India and resettlement in then Northeast Frontier Agency (NEFA). The various demands of citizenship claims made by the Chakmas, role of various Chakma organizations, responses of the state will be discussed in the study. The study analyses both the claims of the incoming community and the responses of the receiving community, particularly the contesting claims by political organizations like the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU). The study concludes with discussion on the responses of the governments, both the Union and the State and the Judiciary on the issue of the Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh.
Supervisor: Pahi Saikia