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Kohima rallies against Citizenship Bill

By Our Correspondent Updated: Oct 04, 2019 12:23 am
Protestors participate in a peaceful march against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Kohima on Thursday. (EM Images)

Our Correspondent

Kohima, Oct. 3 (EMN): Protestors gathered to oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) in Kohima on Thursday demanded all the chief ministers of Northeast states to unite for a common cause and resist the central government’s attempt to impose CAB.

Hundreds of people participated in a peaceful rally organised by the Northeast Forum for Indigenous people (NEFIP) and Joint Committee for Prevention of Illegal Immigrants (JCPI) at the state capital, the first of a series of planned agitations across the Northeast.

“I have not seen a single occasion of north-eastern states’ chief ministers coming together for common policies and programmes other than while meeting up with the central government,” said the vice president of NEFIP, Theja Therieh.

He said that the forum wants to bring the common people as well as the people in power together to oppose the CAB. “We want the chief ministers to take all the MPs of the Northeast on board, and voice together (against the CAB) in Parliament,” he maintained.

Therieh appealed the political leaders of the region to ‘come together at least for the CAB issue’ and relay the sentiments of the people to those in power in New Delhi.

According to him, ‘illegal occupants’ will get full legal rights to be an inhabitant of the state once the bill is passed.

“If CAB is enforced all over India, then within 50 years Nagaland will be under the feet of outsiders like the Assam and Tripura states,” commented a representative of an organisation.

The protestors also submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio appealing him to ask the central leaders to withdraw the contentious bill ‘in the interest of peace and harmony’.

“As the elected leader of the state, given by the mandate of its people to you and your party, it is requested that the confidence reposed to you may not be infringed and the will of the people of the state may be fully endorsed and met on this issue.

“Violence had erupted on this issue in the region a number of times and as responsible citizens, we do not want violence to happen again. It is. therefore, our sincere request to you to keep in the loop any action initiated from your end in this regard so that the people and the elected leaders go side by side on this issue,” it read.

In August 2016, the forum had submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that, if enacted, the bill will create a demographic imbalance to the already fragile indigenous population of the NE region; and pose grave danger to the very existence of the indigenous people of NE as a whole irrespective of the size of the population of the communities.

In the memorandum, the forum had listed some of the reasons for objecting to such a bill as:

  1. The bill violates Article 14 of the Constitution as also the Preamble of the Constitution of India.
  2. Such a bill shall have severe impacts on the process of NRC monitored by the Supreme Court as the crucial dates of reference to recognise an immigrant for naturalisation are different. It negates the section 6 A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 introduced in pursuance to the Assam Accord of 1985 and shall jeopardise the whole exercise already carried out.
  3. It will be incorrect to assume that all illegal immigrants who profess the six faiths (listed in CAB) have entered India surreptitiously are due to persecution on the ground of religion in their home country, as most of them are economic migrants.
  4. Although the assurance given by the BJP leaders that the bill will not harm the indigenous people’s economic, traditional and cultural interest, however the fact remains even now almost 80% of the economy is controlled by non-indigenous inhabitants of the region so to further add non-indigenous population will not only aggravate the already marginalised indigenous population but supplant the local population to the point of extinction.
  5. It has been argued that the state government cannot be bypassed for process for naturalisation, this being true however a person that is not recommended for naturalisation in a state can apply for naturalisation from another state and become a citizen of India, thus there is no way to stop them. In such case, a state can allow millions of foreigners to become Indians who cannot be denied entry into any state hence.
  6. At the moment, it is estimated that there are 4 million illegal immigrants in Assam who cannot be granted citizenship under NRC. Whereas, when CAB is enacted these foreigners will be easily accommodated as legal citizens under one pretext or other, this shall further worsen the present demographic crisis.
By Our Correspondent Updated: Oct 04, 2019 12:23:42 am