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Nagaland

Citizenship Bill: NDPP, NPF wants common efforts for NE’s good

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By EMN Updated: Jan 29, 2019 10:30 pm
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Dimapur, Jan. 29 (EMN): The Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) and opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) have called for common efforts to address matters concerning protection of the Northeast region from the impact of the Citizenship
Amendment Bill.
Representatives of the two parties—NDPP President Chingwang Konyak, and Leader of Opposition TR Zeliang—addressed political parties’ convention on Citizenship Amendment Bill of 2016, which was conducted on Jan. 29 in Guwahati.
In his speech a copy of which was received here on Tuesday, Konyak stated that the NDPP was “deeply concerned” about the Bill for which “from the very beginning we have made it clear that Nagaland is protected by special provisions of the Constitution of India under Article 371 (A) and the ILP (Inner Line Permit) regime as per the Bengal Frontier Regulation Act.”

The Nagaland government had objected to the Bill ‘by writing’ to the central government to review the bill through a Cabinet decision, he said. It was reiterated by the Nagaland Cabinet on the inapplicability of the Bill in the state ‘due to special protection and safeguards,’ Konyak stated.

“In its latest decision dated 28th January, 2019, the Nagaland Cabinet had once again clearly restated that we are opposed to the bill and therefore rejected the (Bill). This decision was taken in response to the will and desire of the people, who have expressed their resentment in various ways of democratic manner,” the NDPP chief stated.

“The Nagaland government has also decided to call for a consultative meet with the tribal organisations, political parties, NGOs, civil societies and all stakeholders to gather the views and opinions of all sections.”
The party also appealed to the government of India to hold consultations with all the north-eastern states “so that the rights and privileges of the indigenous people of the region are safeguarded and protected.”

The NDPP and the People’s Democratic Alliance government expressed ‘committed solidarity’ with all states of the Northeast. The two assured that the ‘concerns of our neighbors’ are a collective responsibility and “we should all take up the issue in a united manner in the greater interest of our people.”

The provisions in Article 371 (A) protect Nagaland “with special safeguards and our party will forever stand guard to ensure that the provisions of the constitution are upheld at all costs,” the party added. “We assure all our friends and neighbors that we stand in solidarity with you and hope that through such interactions and consultations we can come closer to each other and that we will be able to live as good neighbors with mutual respect and cooperation and a shared future that benefits all sections,” Konyak added.

The opposition led by TR Zeliang rejected the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which he said had challenged the very existence of the people of Northeast. A copy of his speech was received here on Tuesday.
‘Let us renew our vigour, zeal and determination and rededicate ourselves for the cause of our people. This meeting today has been convened at the appropriate time when we are encountering all visible and invisible adversaries both from within and outside the

Northeast region,’ he said. The former chief minister of Nagaland expressed belief that the meeting would “give us ample opportunity to discuss all pertaining issues” relating to the Bill and north-eastern people.
Zeliang explained that the ILP was not enough. He stated: ‘Many have opined that ILP safeguards the people from the Bill. However, I am strongly convinced that ILP only provides access to outsiders for inward travel into Northeast states (Eg: Nagaland) and does not touch upon the subject of granting citizenship to a foreigner who has resided in India for a certain period of time (6 years under the Citizenship Amendment Bill).’

“The Inner Line Permit (ILP) derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873 also known as Regulation 5 of 1873 is in operation in my home state, Nagaland but there is a huge difference between Citizenship Amendment Bill and the ILP. This is because of the fact that acquiring citizenship of a particular country and obtaining permission for access to a particular region of the country are two completely different issues.”

The NPF cited the case of Dimapur, the commercial hub of Nagaland. “Dimapur is not under the ambit of the ILP regulations and undocumented immigrants, especially IBIs, have flooded the district which is known to all. Not only Dimapur, illegal immigrants have infiltrated even the most interior part of the state.” Going by such a situation, he said, ‘we cannot wholly rely on the BEFR 1873 or ILP regulations; to say that ILP protects the people from the Bill is not reasonable.’

Further, he noted that some had argued that the Article 371 (A) of the Indian Constitution protects the citizens of Nagaland from the Bill. There is no mention of citizenship in the Article, he stated. “After the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha and becomes an Act, the hope of using Article 371(A) as ammunition to oppose the Act will be a long, expensive and futile exercise,” the NPF leader reminded.

Now, he added, how can one be so sure that Article-371 (A) will protect the citizens of Nagaland from influx of immigrants who will be granted Indian citizenship once the Bill becomes an Act. “The time to act is now or never,” he stated.
Zeliang added that the NPF ‘unequivocally refuses’ to accept the Bill.

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By EMN Updated: Jan 29, 2019 10:30:22 pm