TODAY -

Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) : An Adhesive for Integrity of Manipur

Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh *

 Emergency Public Meeting on Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 at Khwairamband Ima Keithel :: 29 January 2019
Public Meeting on Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 at Ima Keithel on 29 January 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



Mass protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in North East states of India turned deaf to the Government of India as President Ram Nath Kovind in his speech at the joint parliamentary session of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha at Central Hall of Parliament on 31st January 2019 assured passage of the Bill in the Indian Parliament.

President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the legislators from both Houses on the first day of Budget Session and he backed the Centerís Citizenship Amendment Bill which met stiff opposition from all section of people in North East, political Parties, student bodies and Civil Societies Organizations.

In his speech, President mentioned that ďThe citizenship Amendment BillĒ will make it easier to provide Indian Citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else. The Bill seeks to amend Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christian from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, if they have lived in India for six years even if they donít possesses the necessary documents .He further said, the Bill will seek to address ď Injustice and deprivationĒ in society.

One of the ethical consideration embodied in the Bill is: why foreigners or the migrants want to stay in India? The answer to this question is very simple. The basic reason that the illegal migrants from the above mentioned countries are subjected to various forms of harassment or persecution on the ground of religion or caste.

There is also report that they are forced to convert into other religion. Naturally, life is risky for them in these countries. Thatís why they want to stay in India, which they claimed as their ancestral land (Country) or the land in which their ancestors lived/ settled.

Thus the ethical value in the Bill is that the life of the people of Indian origin from the above mentioned countries and communities will be protected and saved. Therefore there is the need for passing the Bill in both Houses of Parliament.

But, the demography of the North East particularly Manipur has been imbalanced due to illegal migrants. Thatís why AMSU has been demanding detection and deportation of illegal migrants since 1970s.After long agitations, accords have been reached between AMSU and State Government in two instances.

One in 1980 and another in 1994, in presence of the Governor of Manipur. However in this context of Manipur and North East states the Government of India has again tabled the Bill and consequently passed the CAB-2016 by Lok Sabha on 8th January 2019 which threatens the survival and very existence of the indigenous peoples of Manipur and North East.

The Bill seeks to make immigrants from the above mentioned countries if they are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis or Christians and entered India on or before 31st December 2014, who may have been considered illegal till now, eligible to apply for Indian Citizenship.

The Bill, if enacted into Law, would also abate all proceedings that may be pending against such victims of religious persecution to determine if he is an illegal migrant and reduce the qualifying period to apply citizenship, on the ground of naturalization from 11 years to 6 years.

Government of India also issued notification on 7th September 2015 and 18th July 2016, making amendments to the passport (Entry into India) Rules 1950, allowing illegal migrants communities mentioned above from the said countries who entered & sheltered in India on or before 31st December 2014 to apply Indian citizenship without valid documents or with expired valid documents.

With these, the Bill further makes the base year of 1951 for detection and deportation of illegal migrants ,agreed in 1980 & 1994 between AMSU & GOM also base year mention in Manipur People Bill passed by Manipur Assembly in 2018 (now in the Presidentís office for assent) meaningless.

Taking these plights and possible dangerous consequences in the demographic imbalances due to CAB, all the Civil Society Organizations and Student bodies of Manipur from both Hill & Valley, irrespective of caste and community have come out together and formed a united body or core Committee (consisting of more than 72 Organizations) which is now known as Manipur People Against CAB (MANPAC) on 28th January 2019. This day will be a red letter day in the history of Manipur.

Thus Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) has become an adhesive to establish the solid integrity of Manipur which appeared fragile for quite some time.


* Sanjenbam Jugeshwor Singh wrote this article for Imphal Times
This article was webcasted on February 04 2019.



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