TODAY -

Rajya Sabha adjourned without Citizenship Amendment Bill being tabled
What to do now ?
- Part 2 -

Dr. Khomdon Lisam *

 Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 : Protest at Imphal East , Imphal West :: 12th February 2019
Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 : Protest at Imphal East on 12th February 2019 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam



What is the stand of the Manipur Government ?

On 10 January, 2019, Manipur's coalition government, led by chief minister N Biren Singh held a cabinet meeting and decided to ask the Centre to exclude the state from the jurisdiction of the Citizenship Bill altogether and to give its assent to the Manipur People Bill 2018.

On 16 January , 2019, after inaugurating several development projects in Chandel district, the Chief Minister, Manipur said "Unless there is a provision for protecting the indigenous people of Manipur as well as the other northeast states, the state government would not support the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,"

On 17 January, 2019, the Chief Minister, Manipur said "The stand of the Manipur government is very clear. Before the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed by the Rajya Sabha, the President should give his assent to the Manipur People's Bill,"

The Manipur People's (Protection) Bill, passed unanimously by the Assembly on 23 July, 2018 aims to grant the status of "natives" to Meiteis, Pangal Muslims, scheduled tribes and others who moved to the state before 1951.

Two Points of Chief Minister to the Union Home Minister

On 12 January, 2019, Manipur Chief Minister Shri N. Biren Singh called on Union Home Minister Shri Rajnath Singh along with Manipur BJP President and Rajya Sabha MP, Ksh. Bhabananda Singh. Shri Biren Singh submitted a memorandum for giving Presidential Assent to Manipur People Bill, 2018. Shri Rajnath assured that the Ministry will examine the Bill. (PIB dated 14/1/2019)

Shri Rajnath's assurance is not to give assent but to examine the Bill. After returning from Delhi, the Chief Minister placed two points before the people of Manipur :-

o The President should assent the Manipur People Bill-2018 before the Citizenship (Amendment) Act-2016 is passed by the Rajya Sabha.
o The Chief Minister will urge the Prime Minister and the Home Minister to provide an " Exclusion Clause " in the Bill to exclude Manipur from the Citizen (Amendment ) Bill-2016.

Loopholes of the Manipur People Bill -2018

The present Manipur People Bill -2018 which is lying with the Union Home Ministry has several loopholes. I may be allowed to cite some examples. If the President give assent to this Manipur people Bill-2018, we may not be able to amend it for several decades.

o According to the Manipur People Bill -2018, "Manipur People means all the NATIVE People of Manipur". But the Bill does not define who are the Native People or Indigenous people or Aboriginal peoples of Manipur. We should not take everything on assumption. All the citizens of Manipur are not Native people or Indigenous people. All Native people/ Indigenous people/ Aboriginal people of Manipur. are the first settlers. There are 25 communities including Meiteis to whom the King of Manipur had given Yek Salai. They are the original people / Native people/ Indigenous peoples. This needs to be reflected in the Manipur people Bill-2018.

The true identity of these 25 communities is the Yek Salai in addition to the mongoloid features, history, language, cultures, traditions, festivals, dress etc, The other citizens of Manipur who do not have Yek Salai are the non-indigenous people to whom the king had not given Yek Salai. They are the immigrants or foreigners or refugees. America is a country of immigrants. The natives in America has been reduced to less than 2%.

Similar is the case in Canada , Australia etc. During the election campaign, Barak Obama said " I am an immigrant". In Manipur, there are some groups of people who are true immigrants but claimed to be the Indigenous people of Manipur by creating fake histories. The Manipur Government should therefore redraft the Manipur People Bill-2018 by involving historians, lawyers, academicians, CSOs , experts etc. They should define the terminology of Native People /Indigenous People to be reflected in the Bill.

The people of Manipur wants to know the truth. Truth can not be decided by vote or at gun point. The immigrants in Manipur are living and will continue to live as bonafide citizens of Manipur/India. They have the rights of a citizen but they will not have the rights of the Indigenous people as defined by the United Nations.

Immigrants also can take part in defending our history, democracy and saving our Constitution. They will not import their relatives , friends , neighbours from Myanmar, Bangladesh to Manipur causing massive influx and causing population imbalance. We should send back those people who entered Manipur after 1951 to their homes. They should not revolt or try to act as anti-people or anti-state in the name of their genuine population groups.

o The present Manipur People Bill-2018 does not identify the INNER LINE where the authorities have to verify the illegal migrant workers, collect fees and issue passes and further instructions. Under the present Manipur People Bill-2018, any illegal migrant can enter into or exit from Manipur at ease without having the Pass. Under the said Manipur people Bill-2018, the illegal migrant has to enter Manipur first and the hoteller or house owner who is giving shelter has to report the arrival of the illegal migrant to the authority. This arrangement will lead to many complications.

o The present Manipur people Bill-2018 does not prescribe any Entrée Fees plus fines on the illegal migrants leading to loss of revenue on the state exchequer . A minimum entry fee of Rs. 1000 per head may be charged to increase the state revenue

o The present Manipur people Bill-2018 does not have penalty provisions for defaulters although there is penalty provisions for hoteller and owners of buildings who sheltered the non-Manipuris for not informing the State Government. Our legal experts have pointed out that without punishment clauses, the Bill will be just like a paper tiger and will not be effective. What is the use of having an ineffective Bill. It will defeat the purpose of the Bill.

At the same time, the legal experts have also pointed out that under Article 35 (a) ( ii) . the state can not enact a law having punishment clauses. They have not mentioned about 7th Schedule List 2 (State List Entry 64 –Offences against Laws under which the state is empowered to enact laws connected with offences). If the State can not enact a law having punishment clauses, how are other advanced States like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat enacted laws having punishment clauses.

It is here that we need the services of constitutional experts like Ram Jetmalani, Soli Sorabjee, Fali Sam Nariman, Mukul Rohtagi, Kapil Sibal . The Karnataka State Legislative Assembly passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of transfer of certain lands) Act, 1978 (Karnataka Act No. 2 of 1979 ) with punishment clauses of imprisonment which may extend to six months or with fine which may extend to two thousand rupees or with both. (http://dpal.kar.nic.in/pdf _files/2%20of%201979%20(E).pdf).

The Andhra Pradesh State Legislature passed an Act namely "the Andhra Pradesh Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 1982" (Act No. 12 of 1982), which was published in Andhra Pradesh Gazette, Part IV-B (E.O.) dated 6th September, 1982 with punishment clauses of imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to five thousand rupees".(http://apland.ap.nic.in/ cclaweb/scan20acts /land %20grabbing.html).

The Gujarat State Legislative Assembly passed an Act entitled the Freedom of Religion Act, 2003 (Act 24 of 2003) on 12 March 2003 to provide for freedom of religion by prohibition of conversion from one religion to another by the use of force or allurement or by fraudulent means Under section 5 (3), there is a punishment clause which reads: "Whoever fails, without sufficient cause, to comply with the provisions of sub-sections (1) and (2) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to rupees one thousand or with both." (http://www.emw-d.de/fix/files/indien-religionsgesetz.pdf). There are many more examples. I do not want to go further.

Remarks of Yashwant Sinha, Former finance minister

Former finance minister Yashwant Sinha said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is wrong in all aspects and it will not be passed in Rajya Sabha.

"You are concerned whether Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be passed in the Rajya Sabha. I think it is the biggest concern of North East at this moment. All those people I spoke to, they are determined not to pass the Bill. So I do not think the government will dare to pass the Bill. That's why I believe it will not be passed in this session. So no chance that it will be passed by this government," Sinha said on 10 February, 2019.

Citizens' Opposition to the Bill

Since 8 January, 2019, Nine political parties (CPI, RSP, CPI(M),NCP, Forward Block, AAP, BSP, JD(S)and PRJA (Peoples' Resurgence and Justice Alliance), six student Bodies (AMSU, DESAM, MSF, KSA, SUK and AIMS), various Meira Paibees Units , Women Vendors Local Clubs, Youth Organisations, various communities all over the Manipur Valley staged protests rallies, sit-in protests, bandhs everyday and demanded the withdrawal of the Bill and summoning of the Manipur State Assembly to discuss the issue.

Police fired smoke bombs and tear gas cells to the protestors and many people were injured. The State Government imposed Section 144 of CRPC in various localities of the valley districts.

To be continued ....


* Dr. Khomdon Lisam wrote this article for e-pao.net
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 February 25 2019.



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