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Fri, 24 May 2019

Northeast Today

CAB Faces Stiff Opposition

CAB Faces Stiff Opposition
March 12
17:18 2019

STATEWIDE MEGHALAYA

 

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, after it was passed in the lower house of the Parliament, has met with severe opposition in Northeast, even though the Centre and the Assam government have been openly supporting it, stating that the bill is not a threat to the indigenous people of the region. The Conrad Sangma-led NPP government in the state has straight away rejected it. Even several BJP leaders of the state have resigned from the party owing to this. Northeast Today reports…

Throwback

On May 11, 2018, members of several social organisations, including a students’ body, had opposed the idea of granting citizenship to migrants during a meeting with the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, at the State Convention Hall in the city.

The North East Students Organisation (NESO), in a petition to the committee, said the people of the region should be provided with “constitutional safeguards”.

“We oppose the proposed Bill in totality and demand that Inner Line Permit system be introduced for the entire region,” NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa had said.

“The Bill is another effort to encourage infiltration of the Hindus from Bangladesh into the different states of the region. People here are shocked to see that religion is a criterion in the bill,” he had added.

In all, 10 different organisations, including the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (Tripura) and the Grand Council of Chiefs (an organisation of tribal communities), were present at the meeting.

Sangma’s Stand

The opposition to the Bill is not new and it has been opposed tooth and nail since the time it was tabled or discussed. Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, after the bill was passed in the Lower House, met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and asked him to reconsider the Citizenship Amendment bill 2016 as it could prove to be a major law and order problem for his state as well as the Northeast region.

He led a six-member party delegation including BJP leaders to home minister in New Delhi. Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga also expressed his reservation about the bill.

“We have expressed our concern on the bill along with all the coalition partners to the home minister. We hope that the government will reconsider. We have expressed concerns of political parties and civil societies and the public in general of Northeast India. Rajnath Singh has assured he will look into it and call a meeting of northeast chief ministers to discuss the issue,” the Meghalaya CM said.

“Everybody in Meghalaya is opposed to the bill. I urge your good office to reconsider the decision and find a solution for the people of Meghalaya and the Northeast,” said Meghalaya health minister of Meghalaya, AL Hek.

Sangma further said that every chief minister of Northeast should come together to express their concerns on the issue and stand united before the central leadership for the welfare of the entire region.

In a meeting held in Guwahati recently, Sangma said, “We are here to come together to appeal to the government that this issue must be looked at from point of view of sentiments of northeast and country as a whole. We will see future course of action as time comes.”

Other Oppositions

The Khasi Students Union (KSU) on January 30 organised a public rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Shillong. The rally drew a massive response.

Among the thousands who participated in the rally were Chairman of the State Planning Board, Lambor Malngiang, State Minister of Urban Affairs Hamlet Dohling, leaders of the HNYF, FKJGP, SSSS, RBYF, GSU, AYWO and members of several State NGOs.

The speakers in the rally launched a frontal attack against the BJP-led government at the Centre for giving passage to the bill in the Lok Sabha. President of the KSU, Lambok Marngar told the gathering, “If the CAB comes into force, be prepared to go out to the fields. We will not have guns to fight but we will shed our blood for the future generations of the State.”

He demanded that the CAB is scrapped and warned the government not to ‘force the students to abandon the pen for a gun’.

Chairman of NESO, Samuel Jyrwa drew a parallel between the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and CAB. He said AFSPA is an ‘instrument of oppression’ and now they are enforcing the CAB upon us. “The bill will greatly harm the social fabric of the region and also have an adverse effect on the economics of the region,” said Jyrwa.

 

“We have accommodated the Bangladeshi migrants till now; this should not be allowed to happen again in our State and the region”, he added.

General Secretary of the Hynnietrep National Youth Front (HNYF) Sadon K Blah stated, “In the name of religious persecution, the CAB will give an open invitation to the so-called persecuted lot. The rehabilitated families will have constitutional rights and that will impinge on the interests of the indigenous people of the region”.

Many in Shillong believe that the CAB will stir and destroy the social fabric and hence scrapping it is the only option that the government has if there needs to be peace in the state.

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