TR Zeliang
File photo of T.R. Zeliang. Image credit - Twitter

Opposition leader T.R. Zeliang appealed to union home minister Amit Shah to exempt Nagaland from the purview of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

He hoped Shah will apply his wisdom and do justice to the appeal.

Zeliang made the appeal during the meeting called by Shah to discuss the bill in New Delhi.

The former Nagaland chief minister urged Shah that Nagaland might be exempted in line with his declaration in Aizawl on October 5 that a special clause would be incorporated in the bill in order to protect the interest of northeastern states inclusive of Nagaland, a release said on Wednesday.

He believed such an arrangement would be made positively after the meeting.

Also read: CAB in Parliament by next week

Zeliang said Shah’s declaration was seen as a ray of hope and genuine approach to safeguard the rights and identity of the indigenous people of the Northeast in the midst of turmoil and confusion created directly or indirectly by the emergence of CAB.

Zeliang said he strongly felt that despite the existence of provisions like inner line permit (ILP) checking system in the state, the Naga people are not protected unless a particular word like “exemption” or “exempted” is incorporated as a special clause in the final draft of the bill.

Zeliang expressed gratitude to Shah for inviting leaders of all political parties of Nagaland to the crucial meeting for open expression of apprehensions and grievances before the CAB is reintroduced in the Lok Sabha.

He hoped the outcome of the crucial meeting would calm down the volatile situation created by CAB in Nagaland and Northeast.

Zeliang brought to the notice of the home minister that some people in Nagaland had maintained that Nagaland is protected from CAB by provisions under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) Act, 1873 and the ILP regulations.

He said this was s a mistaken belief.

He said the ILP derived from the BEFR Act, 1873 is in operation in Nagaland till date but there is a huge difference between acquiring citizenship of a particular country and obtaining permission for access to a particular region of the country.

Zeliang said the CAB seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants whereas the ILP only provides temporary access to outsiders for inward travel into Nagaland.

Zeliang added that the concept of introducing ILP system in the state was to protect the interest of indigenous Naga citizens from the influx of illegal immigrants from outside.

“It is without doubt that if CAB is implemented in its present form, ILP regulations will not be able to control the random influx of illegal immigrants who will start migrating to NE states like Nagaland in search of their livelihood with their newly acquired Indian citizenship status,” he said.

Zeliang was of the opinion that the provision of Article 371(A) and BEFR 1873/ILP cannot stop a person, particularly Illegal Bangladesh immigrants, from acquiring Indian citizenship anywhere in India.

He said there is no doubt that many illegal immigrants are living in the northeastern states, including Nagaland, without proper documents.

Zeliang said these undocumented illegal immigrants who have entered the north eastern states like Nagaland on or before December 31, 2014 and have been living without being noticed by the state will eventually become Indian citizens if the CAB is implemented.

Bhadra Gogoi

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