The North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP) has strongly opposed the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in its present form.
According to NEFIT, the present CAB, 2016 is an “attempt to legitimise the defaulters and is prima facie unconstitutional and against Article 14 (Right to Equality) of the Constitution and corrupting the basic concept of Secularism as per the Doctrine of Basic structures of the Constitution of India”.
The reaction from the NEFIP came two days after Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s assurance that the CAB would not be in conflict with the Inner Line Permit (ILP) legislation, which is in force in some states of the Northeast.
Shah made the assurance at the 4th conclave of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) held in Guwahati on Monday.
The Union Home Minister also said the proposed CAB would not override the provisions of 6th Schedule and State Acts like Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act.
The NEDA conclave was attended by the Chief Ministers of eight NE States including Sikkim.
A press statement issued by NEFIT media secretary Khuraijam Athouba said, “He (Shah) also stated that the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill would also not be in conflict with existing laws pertaining to safeguarding the identities, culture and customs of the indigenous people of the region.”
“He goes on to say that the CAB that the Centre is contemplating will not affect Article 371 or the laws that protect the identities of the people of the Northeast,” it stated.
Shah further asserted that the Centre intends to expel all illegal immigrants not just from Assam but the entire country.
However, the NEFIT has welcomed Shah’s assurance to protect and safeguard the identities, culture and customs of the indigenous people of the region and to remove all illegal migrants from the entire region.
The NEFIP finds the “exertions empty, misleading and double standard since the very concept of CAB is an attempt to naturalise citizenship of illegal immigrants in the region”.
The NEFIP also said it is “strongly opposed to the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in its present form” which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, and Christians who came from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan due to religious persecution.
It also said “the Third Schedule of the 1955 Act is proposed to be amended to decrease the residency requirement from 11 years to six years”.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to make drastic changes in the citizenship and immigration norms of the country by relaxing the criteria to become an Indian citizen.
NEFIP appealed to the Centre not to take the indigenous people of Northeast for a ride with rhetoric assurances but to address their concerns with all seriousness and with pragmatic approach.