Northeast MPs seek region be exempt from Citizenship Bill

New Delhi/Shillong, Nov 29 (IANS) Twelve parliamentarians from eight northeastern states on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to exempt the region from the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019.

The letter comes on the eve of the consultative meeting on the bill, which seeks to remove hurdles in the way of eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship, between Home Minister Amit Shah with Chief Ministers of the northeastern states and leaders of various NGOs from the region in New Delhi.

The Bill is expected to be passed in the ongoing winter session of Parliament.

In the letter, the parliamentarians from Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram voiced their “strong objection” to the passing and implementation of the Bill in the northeastern region.

“All premier NGOs of the region are also of the same opinion. We collectively believe if such a bill implemented uniformly across the nation, it will particularly render the indigenous and tribal population of the northeast vulnerable to displacement,” said the letter, signed by Congress MPs Vincent H. Pala, Mukut Mithi, Pradyut Bordoloi, Gaurav Gogoi and Abdul Khaleque, Indra Hang Subba of Sikkim Krantikari Morcha, Lorho S. Pfoze of the Naga People’s Front, and C. Lalrosanga of Mizo National Front among others.

“.. we urge you (Prime Minister) to include within this bill a provision which exempts from its ambit the residents of the northeastern states of Arunachal, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim,” they noted.

“We request you to look into the matter seriously and address our concerns at the earliest,” the letter noted.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had told that neither his government nor his National People’s Party (NPP), will support the Citizenship Amendment Bill if its content goes against the interest of the people of the state and the northeast region.

The BJP-led government in Arunachal Pradesh too has been opposing the proposed amendment. On Thursday, the powerful North East Students Organisation (NESO) has warned of an agitation across the northeastern states if the Central government goes ahead with the proposed amendment.

The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure but could not push it through due to vehement protests by opposition parties and it lapsed with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha.

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