Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 : What to do now?
- Part 2 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

 Protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) by UPF & CSOs at Keishampat :: 21st January 2019
Protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) by UPF & CSOs at Keishampat on 21st January 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

Oppositions to the Bill

On the day of passing the bill by the Lok Sabha, the opposition members opposed the bill saying it as " divisive and flawed". The Bill is receiving vehement opposition from all the States of North East (NE) including Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Manipur. A large section of people, organisations in the North East (NE) have opposed the bill saying-" it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion."

Hidden Agenda of the Government of India

The hidden Agenda of the Government of India may be to replace the mongoloid population with Aryan population. The strategy they have adopted is through population invasion- a war without arms. Prevent the people of North East from being united. The greatest fear of India is the emergence of an united north east. Therefore , the main focus of the mainland Indians is how to keep the North East people divided in the name of Political Parties, Ethnicity. Religion. They will be very happy if any civil war erupts in North East India.

The Chicken neck of 21-40 km between Garo Hilla and Siliguri is another cause of worry. This is only180 km away from the Chinese military camp. Once this is blcoked, the rest of India is cut off . North East is a sleeping giant . It is self sufficient in all respects to be an idependent sovereign country producing petrol, diesel, iron, coal, gas , tea for the last more than 100 years. Once it wakes up from slumber, that may be be the end of India .

Prevent the people of North East from being united. The greatest fear of India is the emergence of an united north east. Therefore , the main focus of the mainland Indians is how to keep us divided in the name of Political Parties, Ethnicity. Religion. They will be very happy if any civil war erupts in North East India.

Oppositions to the Bill in the North East

The people of the North East (NE) view the Bill as a threat to the very existence of indigenous peoples in the North East (NE). Many student organizations expressed that " We will not accept any law which will take away our rights as indigenous people. It is a threat to our national security and a threat to our own existence. They raise a question :" Why do the Government of India using NE as a dumping ground for the illegal immigrants. It is a complete mockery of the constitution of India,"

A memorandum submitted to Rajendra Agarwal, Member of Parliament, Chairman, Joint Select Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 through the Nagaland Governor also maintained that the crisis arising out of the unabated influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh has brought about serious demographic changes in the North East region in particular, and other parts of the country in general.

The continued and unabated influx of refugees and undocumented illegal migrants from the neighbouring countries has further threatened the existence of indigenous people in respect of their cultural, social, economic and political identity, the memo read.

Response of Arunachal Pradesh

In Itanagar, members of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) said they would continue the stir till the time the government concedes to their demands. The AAPSU President Hawa Bagang said the Centre had no regard for the indigenous people of the region. "The proposed bill is one among the many examples that show the lawmakers in our country have no or very little regard for the indigenous populace of Arunachal Pradesh and the entire North East region," he said.

The AAPSU would organize more such democratic movements, under the aegis of Northeast Students' Organization (NESO), in the interest of the indigenous people. The Bangladeshi refugees, who have been residing illegally in our state, would be asked to leave, he said. "We will soon serve notices to all the Bangladeshis, who have sneaked into our state, after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft was released in Assam."

Response of the Assam

Rajendra Agarwal, BJP MP, head of the 16-member Joint Select Parliamentary Committee during a public hearing in Shillong on 10 May 2018 said that the views and recommendations would be compiled in a report and submitted to Parliament. On 23 October, 2018 , 46 organisations in Assam called a 12-hour bandh to protest against the Centre's bid to pass the proposed legislation in the forthcoming session of Parliament.

On 17 November, 2018, 28 ethnic communities took out a torchlight rally demanding immediate withdrawal of the Bill. On 16 January, 2019 Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister of Assam said "The people of Assam have made me the chief minister with lots of trust and confidence. I have not come here to betray them. I shall work for the development of Assam till the last moment," said the chief minister while addressing a meeting at Dhubri in Assam.

The pressure increased on Mr Sonowal after the state government of Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland opposed the bill. The Assam Gana Parishad (AGP), who is the BJP's coalition partner in the Government has threatened to cut ties with the party if the Bill is passed. The AGP considers the Bill to work against "the cultural and linguistic identity of the indigenous people of the State". The Students' organisation such as All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and Civil Society Organisation such as the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti also have opposed the Bill. They have organised a number of Bandhs and strikes.

The people are not happy when Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address in Silichar that "the Citizenship Bill is an atonement of the wrong that was done during India's Partition.

While quitting the alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) who was a signatory of Assam Accord-1985 said "as per the accord, all illegal immigrants, irrespective of religion, have to be deported and this Bill violates the Assam accord-1985.

The Clause 6 of the Assam Accord states "constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people". The people of Assam feel that the Citizenship (Amendment Bill-2016 will nullify the Assam Accord -1985.

On 8 January, 2019 agitators clashed with the police, gheraoed Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's house at his native place in Dibrugarh, blocked national highways and damaged vehicles in Assam during the 'bandh'. The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) activists tried to ransack a BJP office in Dibrugarh, prompting security forces to resort to lathicharge and fire rubber bullets.

Assam is the gateway to all other states of North East. When 40 lakh illegal migrants are in trouble in Assam, they are most likely to seek shelter to any other neighbouring places like Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Tripura etc. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram are having Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act-1873 in operation restricting entry of outsiders and their land are protected as the people are Scheduled Tribes under Article 342 of Indian Constitution. Their preferred destination will be Manipur where there is no restriction. The climate is comfortable, Job opportunities are good and the food is good.

Response of the Meghalaya

The Meghalaya governments has strongly opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and adopted resolutions against it. The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, an ally of the BJP, has opposed the Bill. Calling the Bill "dangerous," the Meghalaya government said that they don't agree with the idea of non-Muslims acquiring citizenship after six years of living in the country.

Response of Mizoram

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, another BJP partner, is also upset. Zoramthanga and his party Mizo National Front (MNF) supported yesterday's North East Bandh and said the Bill is against the principle of secularism and would have an adverse effect in the North East. Earlier, the Young Mizo Association (YMA) had written to PM Modi, expressing strong opposition against the Bill. The Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) urged the legislators of Mizoram to adopt a resolution to reject the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016. Now Mizoram is saying " Hello China, Bye Bye India."

Response of Nagaland

On 1 June, 2018, the Nagaland . Tribes Council (NTC) has urged the Nagaland Government to oppose the Bill keeping the people's wishes and interest of the citizens of the state.

While granting citizenship on religious consideration is dangerous and against secular principle of India, the NTC also reminded that North-East is highly infested by illegal immigrants particularly from Bangladesh and already heavily burdened with foreigners' issue and regularisation of these illegal residents has become a direct threat to region's political future and the survival of its indigenous people, identity, culture and land.

The NTC pointed out that "When Assam is flooded with foreigners, Nagaland will become the first victim of the proposed Bill," it cautioned. The NTC has urged the Government of India not to go against the sentiments of the indigenous population.

Response of Tripura

On 12 January, 2019, the Tribal groups (indigenous people) of Tripura have called a 12-hour bandh protesting against the citizenship (amendment) Bill. "The BJP-led government's police opened fire on unarmed innocent people while they were protesting against the Bill in a democratic manner injuring six youths. The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), demanded the resignation Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. They want a judicial probe headed by a sitting High Court judge, compensation of Rs. 20 lakh or government jobs for the families of the injured youth.

Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), demanded the resignation Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. They pointed out that a few decades back the population of illegal immigrants was just 20 to 30 percent but today the reverse can be seen where the indigenous population is being reduced to 30 percent.

They said "illegal migrants are dominating our economy and this bill will be a boon for them to settle in our land. We believe –this protest is for our future. We may not get immediate action but it is a good step and we hope that more people will join this cause. The Bill will allow the eligibility of citizenship for illegal immigrants on the basis of religion which may violate the Article 14 of the Indian Constitution guaranteeing the right to equality.

On 12 January, 2019 " The NESO Adviser, Samujjal Bhattacharjee said BJP-led Tripura government does not believe in democratic values. The party is trying to bulldoze sentiments and opinion of the people of the northeast. The BJP is using force on people of the northeast, who voted for them and the police firing is an example of that. We will fight this and not allow the bill to be implemented,"

Alleging conspiracy, Tripura BJP spokesperson, Nabendu Bhattacharjee said that the tribal parties, who called the Bandh, "have no base among the masses" and these parties and the CPI-M are "conspiring against the state government". The Congress party is also supporting the Bandh in Tripura."

To be continued ....

* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for
The writer was Former Medical Superintendent, JNIMS, Ex-Consultant, NACO & Ex-Project Director (MACS)
The writer may be contacted at khomdon(DOT)lisam(AT)yahoo(DOT)com
This article was webcasted on January 30 2019.

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