Amidst walkout by Opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) MLAs, the Nagaland Assembly on Monday passed and adopted a resolution rejecting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The Opposition party contended that inclusion of the Article in the resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Bill was “non-related.”
It had urged the Speaker to summon a special session to discuss Article 371 (A) of the Constitution, which provides special provisions to Nagaland.
When the government went ahead with the adoption of the resolution, the NPF legislators walked out of the Assembly.
In absence of the Opposition members, Deputy Speaker Zhaleo Rio put the resolution to vote and it was passed by voice vote.
The resolution sternly rejected the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, saying its implementation will impact the unique history of the Nagas.
It re-affirmed the constitutional guarantee given by Article 371 (A) of the Constitution and reiterated the constitutional position that, except for the indigenous population in Nagaland, non-Nagas are not entitled to own land and resources in the state.
Expressing solidarity with the north eastern states and communities, the resolution said the bill, if passed, will distort the demography of the region.
The Opposition members expressed dissatisfaction on the resolution moved by the government, objecting that Article 371(A), inner line permit and Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, protect the rights and the privileges of the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland.
The ruling bench had argued that Article 371 (A) could not be omitted from the resolution against the bill, saying that it was “the basis of the people’s existence.”
Opposition leader T.R. Zeliang argued that the resolution was “one-sided.” He said the resolution had become the ruling People’s Democratic Alliance’s resolution and not an Assembly resolution, as it was adopted in the midst of protest by the Opposition bench.
He suggested the last two resolutions against the bill be amended and rectified. He was of the view that there is a “huge difference” between the Citizenship Amendment Bill and the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation or Article 371 (A) or the inner line permit.
“If we think that we can be protected by Article 371 (A) then we need not oppose the Bill,” Zeliang said.
Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio argued that the resolution should not be amended but taken it in the present form. This, he said, was in the interest of the people.
Rio insisted that there was no point to reject the resolutions.
According to the chief minister, the ruling as well as the Opposition bench should come together and reject the bill.
“Division among us portrays a wrong message to the people,” he said.
Even if the matter is taken to the Parliament, there is no way forward to get justice, he added.
The chief minister had moved the motion for the debate on Citizenship Amendment Bill on Saturday.
The debate lasted for two days till Monday with participation of 15 legislators from both the ruling and the Opposition.