TODAY -

Idea of who is a citizen of the land : Defined by religion
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: June 30 2018 -



Changing the definition of illegal migrants and this is what has not gone down well with the North Eastern States.

Assam has already demonstrated its strong stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed on July 15, 2016 which seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Christians and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and who have settled in India for the last 6 years.

This is a reduction from 11 years in the Citizenship Act 1955.

Amending the existing Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to the aforesaid communities and this falls in line with the pre-poll promise of the BJP in 2014, when it assured to grant citizenship to Hindus even adding it in their election manifesto to welcome Hindu refugees.

The reason why it has been so strongly opposed in Assam is not hard to find. With the exercise of preparing the National Register of Citizens with the base year of 1971 still on in Assam under the directive of the Supreme Court, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is sure to nullify the spirit of the Assam Accord signed between late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the All Assam Studentsí Union back in 1985 at the peak of the anti-foreigner movement in the neighbouring State.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant citizenship to people belonging to the aforesaid communities, while the Assam agitation and hence the NRC does not differentiate along religious line.

It is in line with the apprehensions felt in Assam that Nagaland too has spoken its stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

So far the Nephiu Rio PDA Government, which has the BJP as a partner has not spoken out against the Bill, but the NPF and the NTC have done so and not surprising for Nagaland shares the border with Assam.

It is again along this line that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance Government which has the BJP as an ally has opposed the Bill.

The BJP led Government in Imphal is yet to come out with an official stand on the Bill, but it is significant to note that the Congress has already taken a strong stand against it.

So too have numerous student organisations under the North East Studentsí Organisation.

Sooner than later, the BJP led Government in Imphal too will have to spell out its official stand and this is where it can be interesting.

Significant to note too that the new Bill has come to the limelight when the BJP led Government in consultation with stake holders is preparing the draft Bill to restrict the entry of non-locals into the State.

The stand of the JCILPS on the Bill need not be elaborated for the demand that the entry of non-locals into the State be regulated has not been raised along religious line, but is a demand raised on behalf of the indigenous folks of the land.

It is also interesting to note that while the Bill envisages granting citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians the same clause is not applicable to Muslims, thereby underlining the point that religious minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan are a harassed lot.

Voices of opposition have been raised by different groups, but it would be interesting to see where the BJP led Government in Manipur officially stands on the issue.

Never mind the personal opinion expressed by Chief Minister N Biren some time back, or should that be taken to mean as the official stand of the coalition Government ?



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