Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said the BJP-led NDA government listens to its people and allies and believes in discussing matters first with the people concerned and so it did not introduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Rajya Sabha.
“It was for this reason we dropped the Citizenship Bill and never introduced it in the Upper House. It was for the same reason that even chief minister Pema Khandu, despite knowing that the bill would have no impact in Arunachal, met the PM and requested him to revoke the bill saying that people of Arunachal had apprehensions about the bill,” Rijiju said while addressing the media here on Sunday.
He also said, “The Centre will not introduce any bill or law that would harm the interests of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and the Northeast. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his speech at Aalo has already announced that his government will not take steps or will bring in any law or bill which will go against the interests of the people.”
Modi in his speech at Aalo did not specifically mention about the bill but said his government will protect the culture, tradition and interests of the people of the region. He also did not mention about the bill in his two rallies in Assam.
“Such a categorical statement made by the Prime Minister means everything,” Rijiju, who was addressing a news conference at the BJP headquarters here, said.
The bill which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction, was passed by Lok Sabha in January, 2019.
The bill was to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in February in the last session of Parliament. But stiff resistance in Assam and other northeastern states by student organisations, indigenous groups and also from BJP leaders including chief minister Pema Khandu dissuaded the government from tabling the legislation.
However, raking things up once again, BJP national president Amit Shah had recently declared at a rally in Assam that his party would re-introduce the bill in Parliament if his party was re-elected to power.
Rijiju said that the people should understand that the Citizenship Bill is not only for Arunachal or Northeast but is applicable for all the states of the country.
“If states like West Bengal want to bring the bill and if Gujarat is supporting it, why should we oppose it? We should oppose things which are not in the interest of the state and region. Why would we take stand against things which is suitable for other states? If Rajasthan wants to accept the prosecuted Christians, Hindus or Muslims, let its State government take a call, why should the people of the North East oppose the same?” the Union minister said.
“Through the media I would once again like to clarify that we (BJP) will never do things or take any step in regards to the Citizenship Bill or any other bill, which would hamper the larger interest of the people of North East,” he said.
The MoS said that his government listens to its people and allies and believes in discussing matters first with the people concerned and so it did in the case of the Citizenship Bill.
He also said that the total crime rate in the Northeast has gone down by 79% after the BJP came to power in 2014.
“Incidents like kidnapping, militancy, demands for ransom, killing of civilians and security personnel have gone down by 79% since 2014. The BJP’s and PM Modi’s efforts to maintain peace in the north-east region have been quite successful,” he said.
The Centre has also been making full efforts to revoke AFSPA from Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh. However, incidents like the killing of innocent people by the underground outfits act as a hurdle, Rijiju said.
Condemning the incidents of poll related violence in the state in which two persons have been killed, Rijiju said that orders have been given out by the state and central governments to the security personnel and officers concerned to make sure that such incidents do not repeat in the future.