It is inappropriate to put the three groups of people together as given in the subject line. The only common aspect Rohingyas, Chakmas and Hajongs share is that they all hail from present day Bangladesh or pre independence Bengal province.
Rohingya /Myanmar Conflict and Assam Immigration Problem
The term Rohingya is not accepted by Myanmar government. The government call them “Muslims of Rakhine state” who had come from Bangladesh/Bengal. The citizenship act 1982 of Myanmar denies citizenship to Muslims of Rakhine state as they are termed as illegal immigrants and that they are not a “national race”.
There are Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam and in other parts of India. Numerically Muslim and Hindu immigrants pose a serious political threat to the indigenous population of the state of Assam, which is acknowledged by the government of India.
But the policy of the government of India on immigration from Bangladesh has always been inconsistent. By way of Assam Accord the Government of India legalized all immigration into the state of Assam up to 24th March 1971. The cutoff date and the year is not valid in rest of India in my understanding. On the other hand the Myanmar government set a similar cut off year as 1823!!
Though government of India is bound to detect and deport immigrants entering into Assam from Bangladesh after 24th March 1971, no tangible action is seen on ground. Rather there were laws enacted to make detection and deportation an impossibility (please refer to IMDT act).
The present ruling party in India committed in its pre poll promise to grant citizenship to Hindu and Buddhists immigrants irrespective of their date of entry making the Assam immigration problem much more complicated.
The not less than 10 million strong immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam enjoy all rights as citizens and they are a formidable political force, excluding an insignificant 3 lac or so “D” (doubtful) voters.
Despite alleged “human rights violations”, “genocides” and “ethnic cleansing” by Myanmar government against Rohingyas, it is not fully isolated in the global space. Even India, which is supposed to be a progressive, democratic and liberal country has sided with Myanmar government on the Rohingya issue.
Rohingyas are also described as “stateless” people. Two smaller ethnic groups –Chakmas and Hajongs are also referred to as “stateless” people by a section of the media.
Chakmas, who are Buddhists, originally come from Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. Many of them had to leave CHT either due to religious persecution or due to a hydro power dam. They were subsequently sheltered in Arunachal Pradesh by government of India. Today they constitute 6 percent of the population of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Due to strong opposition from the indigenous people of Arunachal Pradesh, Chakmas are denied citizenship till date .But there has been no organized violence against Chakmas in Arunachal Pradesh so far. Given the insignificant population of Chakmas , the political class is not much worried about the community.
Hajongs from Hajo
Sometimes I see Chakmas and Hajongs are put together and referred to as “stateless people”. This is because Hajongs living in Arunachal Pradesh are denied citizenship just like Chakmas.
Hajongs are followers of Hindu religion and there are sizeable number of Hajongs in Assam and Meghalaya and they enjoy all rights as Indian citizens.
Hajongs speak a dialect which resembles dialects spoken in western Assam districts. Many Hajongs believe that they are originally from Hajo (near Guwahati).
Numerically their numbers are also insignificant. If we put together Hajongs living in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Bangladesh (appx 50K), the total headcount will be less than 2 lac.
I have a suggestion. Places around Hajo have substantial number of Bangladesh origin people. Can’t we have some exchange program with Bangladesh government through which immigrants can go back to their place of origin and Hajongs can come back to Hajo?