TODAY -

Manufacturing citizenship : The ongoing movement against Citizenship Amendment Bill in North East India

Binalakshmi Nepram *

 Meira Rally (Torch Rally) against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 at Imphal :: 30th January 2019
Meira Rally (Torch Rally) against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 at Imphal on 30 January 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



When you single out any particular group of people for secondary citizenship status, that’s a violation of basic human rights
~ Jimmy Carter, Former US President & Nobel Peace Laureate

History show us that in 1500s, an estimated10 million plus indigenous people lived on land now known as current United States of America. In the year 1830, the federal Indian Removal Act was passed that forced thousands of indigenous people out of their homeland. For hundreds of years, conflicts with colonizers, introducing of diseases, atrocities and discriminatory policies devastated the indigenous people. It is estimated that over 9 million indigenous people died from this.

And in current day in North America, many indigenous people now live in areas designated as “Reservations”. The story of what happened to indigenous people in American is the story which many indigenous people living in what is currently known as “Northeast Region of India” is now facing, a fear of becoming outsiders in their own lands.

Of late, the indigenous areas of Northeast Region of India was rocked by a series of protests over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was tabled in Indian Parliament on 8 January 2019 by the BJP Government of India. The region that saw the rise of the strongest protests is inhabited by 272 indigenous communities speaking over 400 languages and home to one of Asia’s longest running armed conflicts. Over 50,000 people have died in this conflict and the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act has been imposed in the region since 1958.

On top of all the seven decades of violence here, the indigenous peoples of Northeast Region of India are wary of the newly minted Citizenship Amendment Bill as the Bill sets to amend the Indian Citizenship Act, 1955 to make migrants from selective religion who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship.

The Bill reduces 11 year requirement of citizenship to 6 years. Sources say that 2 million people (20 lakhs), mostly belonging to Hindu religion from three countries could potentially be granted Indian “Citizenship” as a result of this. The Bill thus makes migrants without any documentation eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion which is a violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.

On other hand, at around the same time, another initiative has been taking place in a place called Assam in Northeast India called the “National Register of Citizens” (NRC). NRCis the list of Indian citizens of Assamand process was taken up as per a Supreme Court order in 2013. Under this, around 4 million people (40 lakhs) in the state were suddenly found to be stateless, without a nation due to lack of proper documentation which proves that they are citizens.And most of them were from Muslim faith.

And due to the above factors, there is fear that the indigenous people of Northeast India who are living there may suffer as a result of the huge influx. Past instances of how indigenous people in Tripura in region have become a minority in their own land. The partition of Bengal in 1947 changed the demography of Tripura. In two decades, the indigenous people of Tripura were reduced to a minority. The percentage of indigenous population in Tripura declined from 64 % in 1874 to 28 % in 1981.

Migrants now constitute 70 % of population and politics decided by them, leaving indigenous people in a minority situation. And recently, Tripura state police forces belonging to the dominant population shot at unarmed indigenous student protestors against the Citizenship Amendment Bill which drew widespread outrage.

A closer study of histories of the world show that what is currently being attempted in India with Citizenship Amendment Bill has also been done in other parts of the world by politicians whose only aim is to engineer “vote banks”. Take the case of Project IC. This enigmatic sounding Project IC is the name used to describe the allegation of systematic granting of citizenship to immigrants in Malaysia in the state of Sabah in East Malaysia.

Sabah was multiracial state with no clear majority race, but with the Kadazan-Dusun as thelargest ethnic group having 32 % of population. The project aim was to alter the demographic pattern of Sabah to make it favourable to the ruling government and certain political parties by changing the electoral voting patterns.

The project reportedly began around 1990s and years later the population of the Kadazan-Dusun was reduced to 17 % and non-citizens rose to 25%. It was reported that Harris Salleh, a leader who admitted to carrying out and planning to change the demography of Sabah in favour of a specific religious community. During the Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah in 2013, Harris Salleh also stated that the granting of citizenship to refugees weredone as per the Federal Constitution.

He further stated that Malaysia’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman had announced in 1970s that certain refugees belonging to a certain “religious” group can stay in Malaysia while other refugeeswho does not belong to that group can stay anywhere in the world.This is a clear act of discrimination.

Hence, for many observers of Northeast India, the current introduction of Citizenship Amendment Bill is akin to those that has been introduced to the world and in region itself– Indian Removal Act of 1830 in USA, Project IC in Malaysia and the population engineering that happened in Tripura.

Current Indian Home Minister, Rajnath Singh said at Indian Parliament that people from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh from minority communities have nowhere else to go and hence they are helpless and Government of India introduced the Bill to give Citizenship.

This argument does not hold water as if India truly cares for atrocities done, then why deport Rohingyas from India back to Myanmar as it did. And also if India truly cares, then country must sign the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees and opens its door towards asylum seekers. The right of asylum is aconcept where a person persecuted by one’s own country may be protected by another. United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 states, “Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution”.

It is important to note that 90 percent of current population of Northeast India is indigenous. To impose the Citizenship Amendment Bill without the pre, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples of Northeast is a clear violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Rather than bringing in divisive policies that violates laws, India must sign 2007 UN Declaration on Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ensure protection of Northeast people.

India also has not signed the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. It is time that country and ruling parties stop the policy of divide and rule, pitch one community, one religion, one ethnic group against another. A nation cannot be built by creating fissures. It can be build when care, concerns and voices of the people are listened to.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill is against the idea of India. It violates the Constitution of Country and it fails the people of Northeast Region, which is home to a wide range of diverse people, speaking multiple languages, histories, struggles and religion, many of whom are also lead indigenous ways of life, living and worship which is neither Hindu nor Muslim.

It is better that Government of India realises the serious issues involved as raised by concerned people of Northeast Region and scrap the bill in all its entirety to enable peace to return.


* Binalakshmi Nepram wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is an internationally renowned award winning scholar and activist.
She is the founder of Manipur Women Gun Survivor Network and Northeast India Women Initiative for Peace and convener of The Global Alliance on Indigenous Peoples, Gender Justice and Peace.
Bina was recently awarded 2018 Anna Politskovskaya Award along with Nobel Laureate from Belarus, Svetlana Alexievich
This article was webcasted on February 06 2019.



* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Weaving at Nongpok Sanjenbam : Gallery
  • Report of Human Rights Commission India
  • Dont you feel the pulse of the people
  • How I missed my best friend wedding
  • We live by the river
  • Recycling of Plastic Waste & its application
  • Performance on Natl Human Rights
  • Tally course by Certified Trainer
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #4
  • Featured Front Page Photo 2019 #3: Gallery
  • Social service @ Moirang : Gallery
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #3: Gallery
  • Can RIIN save Nagaland? #2
  • Cry of a Dying River - 85 :: Poem
  • Jobs at Manitech Consultancy
  • Soaring mercury at Imphal
  • Power of humility
  • 3rd Singcha Wuyawon Festival 2019
  • seL tiHZakaNdta nuHZa_Iba :: Seireng
  • Stalls @Sangai Fest #2 : Gallery
  • How do we trust Naga peace talk ?
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #4
  • Retirement age at 65 or 70 or 55 ?
  • 'Bangla' - Cultural right of Bengalis
  • Political deadlock since 1st week of June
  • Blowing the gaff on greed
  • Folklore of Hao communities #2
  • Choidev Chongba @Kang Fest: Gallery
  • Social Background leading to RIIN
  • Class Room or Timber Depot ?
  • Textbook of Rural Marketing :: Book
  • Career Option as Air Hostess
  • MU : Disbursal of non-NET Fellowships
  • PDA will complete 5 years term unhindered
  • Lungnila Elizabeth : Long road to justice
  • Cracks at Thong Nambonbi : Gallery
  • Evidence of origin of Meiteis from Africa
  • Plastic Surgery Day @RIMS : Gallery
  • Chirangchaiba, Ahongcha :: eMing
  • Naga Peace Process :: News Timeline
  • Of engaging rural youths by NABARD
  • Taking charge of health with home testing
  • National Plastic Surgery Day at RIMS
  • Social Media da furup masel hunnaduna
  • July 11 & July 15: Manorama & nude protest
  • The political conundrum
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #7
  • Yumnam Shamu : Natbhusan (Duhar)
  • Discourtesy :: Poem
  • Skill training for sustainability
  • A Simple Proposal for RIIN
  • Activists of Differently Abled at Jaipur
  • Condolence for AMAND Pune Founder
  • Key Words: Indigenous to Nagaland
  • Political crisis sideline people problem
  • Ibudhou Pakhangba Haraoba #1: Gallery
  • What do Nagas think about Indo-Naga talks
  • Mass Media & National Integration :: Book
  • The adjective called- Biren
  • KVPY Aptitude Test : Imphal included
  • Remedy for Unemployment in Manipur
  • Not everything right within Govt
  • Naga solution rests on flexibilities: Ravi
  • The Great June Uprising #5: Gallery
  • Kanglen Kang Chingba #1 : Gallery
  • nupi ko_Iba :: Seireng
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #3
  • The Naked Smile :: Poem
  • A road journey from New Delhi to Imphal
  • National Lok Adalat at Lamphel
  • The bloody mind & the Nature's kindness
  • The Killing Fields 2013-18 : News Timeline
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #3 : Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Slow Food Nation :: Book Review
  • Naga National Movement & AFSPA
  • Struggles of parenting teenagers
  • L Sadananda wins gold at Commonwealth
  • Downward spiral of Congress
  • Chadong, lake of tears or site of tourism
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #3
  • Fashion Show @Sangai Fest #4: Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 84 :: Poem
  • Hilly NE to rely on Rain Water Harvesting
  • Manipur a mirror of Nagaland
  • Net-work Marketing
  • Tough stand of rebel MLAs
  • Mysterious slaughter of livestock re-visits
  • I am Mary Kom's biggest fan: Chhetri
  • Folklore of Hao communities #1
  • Seram Nirupama : Gold at Commonwealth
  • Manipuri & Chinese Language Connection
  • Understanding NE a Reporters' Journal
  • Budget according to common man
  • Democracy and Behaviourism
  • Child Friendly Rooms at Police Station
  • Ghost of CAB hangs over North East
  • Legitimizing misappropriation of money
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1: Gallery
  • HSLC Compartmental Exam Result 2019
  • Mirabai, Bindyarani & Rishikanta win gold
  • Understanding :: Poem
  • Doubling agri-exports by 2022
  • Are our Journalists Safe & Secured ?
  • Jobs @ Horizon Design Studio, Gurgaon
  • Of Territorial Council and Nagalim
  • ..sacrificing Manipur's land to Myanmar?
  • Neli Chachea: Dolls out of Maize Husks
  • Freedom of Press : Freedom of Speech
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #2
  • Crack CDSE and join defence services
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand :: Timeline
  • National Workshop on Mathematica
  • Teachers required at Vagdevi Vidyapeeth
  • NAD Review Meeting at Manipur University
  • Attack on Human Rights Defender
  • Quixotic land that Manipur is
  • Wishes of common man
  • Poumai Paoki Wrestling #2: Gallery
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #2 : Gallery
  • Khariksing Adonis Tangpu at Asian cycling
  • Management of harmful weed, Parthenium
  • Maisnam Meiraba wins at Russia
  • Cry of a downtrodden State 4 :: Poem
  • Condemns the act of life attempt
  • Sharing the same stage
  • Pakhangba Cheng-hongba #2 : Gallery
  • Social Evolution of Meiteis
  • Happy Club Moirang
  • Cry of a Dying River - 83 :: Poem
  • Nirmala Sitharaman's budget: It is different
  • Some uneasy windfall
  • Arts/Culture Students Day #1 : Gallery
  • Kasanu bing rwan lang pi : Inpui Poem
  • Workforce Management : Book Review
  • Dr. Ksh Vedmani : Faculty Iconic Award
  • When pandemonium will stop in RS
  • Watermelon beauty benefits
  • General Body Meeting of AMWJU
  • frisk Dzukou trekkers for plastic items
  • Call for distrubance free education
  • The clarification and the inaction
  • Kang Chingba @ Konung #1 : Gallery
  • Sangai Festival : Stalls : Gallery
  • The Jewish connection to AIR Tune
  • Van Mahotsav 2019, celebration of life
  • Are we inviting "Pyaar" & poll
  • Digital India - A New India
  • Understanding red, green and yellow lights
  • Lai-Harouba @ JNMDA #1 : Gallery
  • Yanglem Mangi Devi :: Sangeetbhusan
  • Whose game is it anyway ?
  • Kang Festival :: Photo Gallery
  • Village administration of Zeliangrongs #1
  • Cry of a downtrodden State 3 :: Poem
  • Workshop : Six Waste Management Rules
  • Mountain Echoes, Bhutan Festival
  • Now it is no longer 'internal dissent'
  • The greed
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #2
  • World Music Day @Yaiskul #2: Gallery
  • Face book's messenger :: Poem
  • Kang Chingba / yatra Festival : Book
  • Financial assistance to Joute's family
  • Security studies in Manipur University
  • Miss / Mister North East audition
  • Ambulance provided to Bishnupur/CCpur
  • Downward spiral all the way for Cong
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #6
  • Behiang Police station @Singhat : Gallery
  • Why I did not renew my driving license?
  • Sarungbam Athouba: Aquathlon Gold Medal
  • Data entry as career options
  • Akanba Maong Da Condemned Touba
  • Attending roll call at New Delhi
  • Giving life to Nambul River
  • The Great June Uprising #4: Gallery
  • July Calendar for Year 2019 :: Tools
  • Shiksha Abhiyan @ Pune : Gallery
  • Daniel Chabungbam: RK Sanatomba Award
  • Cultural relation -ethnic groups of Manipur
  • CII - 9th Manufacturing Innovation Conclave
  • AMAND Shiksha Abhiyan launched at Pune
  • From poppy cultivation to heroin production
  • Nutritional benefits of Black Rice
  • Manipur: 2nd Runner-up in Natl Pencak Silat
  • Cashless Economy: Issues : Book
  • Good Teaching for better Learning
  • Forty Winks :: Poem
  • Cut-off marks in St. Stephen's College
  • Awaba Fongdokpa : Manipur Journalists
  • Mattress, Blankets donated to villages
  • Speaker in Politics: better think before leap
  • Aliyah #1 (Film Scenes) :: eRang
  • Look at the Sky: Best Short Film IDSFFK
  • A New Dawn for Banking
  • Condolence Message: Hill Journalist
  • 'PIL against ILP is a threat to Nagas'
  • Yoga, overdraft & stability
  • Eat for beauty
  • On issues pertaining to ILP & filing of PIL
  • Let Chennai story be wake up call
  • Some Legislators will face the music
  • To Bee Or Not To Bee
  • Fashion by Kumarjit Laishram #3 : Gallery
  • Cry of a Dying River - 82 :: Poem
  • Growing career opportunity at Yoga
  • Interaction with Legal Aid Clinics
  • Awareness program on Child Rights focus
  • On PIL against ILP coverage to Dimapur
  • Internal storm after a brief lull
  • Understanding Reality
  • Mukna Changdamnaba : Gallery
  • Tapping innovation to secure water future
  • Mouri's Story :: WJ
  • Denounce JNU's hindi imposition
  • Lecture: Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking
  • Heart Camp at Sanjenbam Khunou
  • 'Rio leadership of immoral political tactics'
  • Lessons from Nagaland : Ban on plastics
  • Report on signing of peace deal- IM & GOI
  • BAMCHAS Convention @ Sylhet : Gallery
  • BAMCHAS Sylhet, B'desh: Grand Convention
  • Abdul Hamid : Kamini Kumar Gold Medal
  • Did Manipur Experience Cultural Genocide
  • Health for justice: Justice for health
  • Beauty benefits of baking soda
  • Course in Domestic Data Entry Operator
  • Protect non-locals in Dimapur call
  • Legitimizing the pocketing of public money
  • UN Human Rights: Manipur Experience #1
  • Maring War Dance : Gallery
  • Chayom Thupki (Meetei Philosophy) #5
  • Yoga Day at Pune : Gallery
  • Sanamahi Cheng Hongba #1: Gallery
  • Ambassador of Japan with CM : Gallery
  • Tolloi, Ukhrul :: 360 Panorama View
  • Id-ul-Fitr @ Hatta #2 : Gallery
  • 2019 HSLC Exam Toppers :: Gallery
  • Hr Sec Exam 2019 Toppers #2: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2019 : Download
  • SPONSORED ADS