TODAY -

CAB : Indians are not foreigners

Free Thinker *

 Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 : Protest at Khwairamband Keithel and Keisampat, Imphal  :: 18th November 2019
Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 : Protest at Khwairamband Keithel on 18th November 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



The meaning of foreigner in the NE region has a different connotation. This perception needs to be changed. The common people (less educated) in the NE region feel that whoever comes from outside their region is a foreigner – may be from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan , Pakistan or even from mainland India . T

here lies the Faultline - if the Marwaris from Rajasthan or the Sikhs from Punjab or Biharis from Bihar or the Bengalis from Bengal are considered foreigners , what will you do? The masses in the entire region need to be told and retold that people from any part of India are not foreigners.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016(CAB) which could not complete its legislative course (passed in Lok Sabha and could not be passed in Rajya Sabha) is perhaps coming back in the Winter Session of Parliament ; that is what the media is reporting.

Whether it is the same bill or an amended or improved version, we don’t know. Only when it is circulated or published in the gazette we will come to know the exact content of the proposed new CAB.

Earlier CAB contemplates to change the Indian citizenship law thereby allowing the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from the neighbouring countries namely Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become Indian citizens in an easier process.

It seeks to reduce the number of years of residency period to obtain Indian citizenship through naturalization and empower the Federal Government to cancel the registration of Overseas Citizen of India card in case of any violation.

Govt of India brought CAB ( Citizenship Amendment Bill ) on 19 July 2016 in Lok Sabha relaxing the 11 year cut-off to six years for people of six religions from three countries . Before this they had already issued 2 notices for exempting such immigrants from Foreigners Act 1946 and the Passport Act 1920 – protecting from deportation if they had already in India before 31 Dec 2014.

BJP has been expanding its influence in the entire Northeast ever since it came to power in 2014 at the Centre. The party has its government in Manipur, Assam, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh and its allies are ruling in Nagaland, Sikkim, Meghalaya and Mizoram.

However the BJP allies are not comfortable with CAB. Even within the BJP leaders in the NE region feel somewhat uneasy about this Bill. They still have some unfounded fear, may based on the wrong perception of the common masses who carry a wrong notion of “foreigners”.

For the intellectuals the bill remains polemical as it leaves the Muslims migrants from giving Indian citizens( goes against the spirit of the Constitution). The authority on its part has maintained that the law aims at to granting citizenship to such minorities who have faced religious persecution in the neighbouring countries.

CAB seems to be more relevant for the ruling dispensation because out of 19 lakh people who could not make in the final NRC list in Assam are increasingly becoming non-Muslims.

Constitutionally and legally the argument of the mainstream India is absolutely correct. But who is going to change the perception of the common people in the NE region. The leaders are suppose to tell their people that people from any part of India are not foreigners. There must be distinction between the Mayangs (outsiders)from India and Mayangs (outsiders) from other countries.

People in the North east are so simple and innocent that they become extremely gullible. They are very broadminded, so sober, accommodative and charitable. And so people from outside take advantage of their goodness or good nature.

A large number of ethnic groups in the region express their fear that the new law might result to a demographic shift which is undesirable for the small ethnic minorities in the region.

The new law seeks to legalise the stay of other minorities from Bangladesh , Pakistan and Afghanistan who have migrated to India till Dec 2014 due to religious persecution. The fear of the NE people is that if the law is passed it would convert the region as pasturage of the migrants.

Considering the reactions or the apprehensions of the NE people including their leaders the Central leadership perhaps had given some assurances for extra protection to the indigenous population of the region. Whether they have put some safeguards for the region is yet to be seen. Whether there will be some exceptions to the new CAB , is yet to be unfolded.

I am not fully convinced that the minorities from Pakistan and Afghanistan will come to NE to take shelter here and settle down. Second, minorities from Bangladesh including Muslims are already with us in the Northeast.

The proposed law will benefit 6 religious minorities excluding Muslims who have already come before 2014 Dec31. Within a very short span of time they will get a chance to become first class Indian citizen which is now an envy of the world. (But the law is conveniently silent about the migrant Muslims who have already become Hindus or Christians or Jains or Buddhist or Sikhs or Persis before deadline).

Get my point !


* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on November 24, 2019.



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