NPF office in Kohima
File image: NPF office in Kohima

The Naga People’s Front (NPF) has appreciated the stand of Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma and Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga for taking the right stand against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill from day one.

“We are also grateful to Union home minister Amit Shah who understood the issue and had declared in Aizawl on Saturday that a special clause would be incorporated in the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) in order to protect the interest of Northeast states, particularly Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh,” the NPF said in a statement.

The NPF said it welcomed the positive announcement aimed towards safeguarding the rights and identity of the indigenous people of the region.

The party said it was aware from the beginning that unless a notable clause is incorporated in the controversial Bill, no state in any part of Northeast India is protected under any provision including Article 371(A) and ILP.

It would have done a lot of good if this problem was identified prior to passing of the Bill by the 16th Lok Sabha on January 8 and added the matter could have been resolved amicably if the three states had taken the same stand.

The Opposition party in Nagaland said the people-centric outlook of Conrad Sangma and Zoramthanga is very much unlike Neiphiu Rio’s “myopic belief” of taking shelter under Article 371(A) and inner line permit (ILP).

According to the party, the naive belief of Rio that Nagaland is protected under such provisions has been proved wrong today with the Union home minister declaring that a special clause would be incorporated in the Bill to protect the NE states, including Nagaland.

Without such a special clause, no state is protected under any provisions from the Bill in its present form, the NPF said.

It said the ignorance of the Bill on the part of Rio and its implication coupled with “his Lok Sabha MP Tokheho Yepthomi” abstaining from attending the Parliament session when it was passed in the Lok Sabha was most unfortunate.

“If the Bill did not lapse in the Rajya Sabha, what would have been the position of Nagaland today? Will chief minister Neiphiu Rio and Lok Sabha MP Tokheho Yepthomi be in a position to protect the Nagas from such a dangerous Act today?” asked NPF.

The NPF alleged that in the state cabinet meetings held on June 5, 2018 and January 7 this year, Rio and his cabinet never opposed the Bill.

But later on January 28, Rio and his cabinet took a U-turn and decided to oppose the Bill under the assumption that the state was protected under Article 371(A) and ILP.

Bhadra Gogoi

Bhadra Gogoi is Northeast Now Correspondent in Nagaland. He can be reached at: bhadragogoi@yahoo.com

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