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Mon, 20 Jan 2020

Northeast Today

ILP regime states, Sixth Schedule areas may be kept out of Citizenship Amendment Bill

ILP regime states, Sixth Schedule areas may be kept out of Citizenship Amendment Bill
November 30
12:12 2019

NET Bureau

Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram, where Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime is applicable, are likely to be kept out of the purview of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which is expected to be introduced in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, officials said on Friday.

The information comes amidst an initiative taken by Union Home Minister Amit Shah to hold discussions with chief ministers of the Northeastern states and different indigenous groups, civil society members and political parties of the region to assuage their concerns over the issue.

Twelve non-BJP MPs have also urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to exclude the northeastern states from the purview of the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill, saying if it comes into effect the tribal population of the region will be vulnerable to displacement.

“There is all likelihood that three states — Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram — where ILP regime is prevalent will be kept out of the purview of the CAB. Discussions are ongoing whether the Sixth Schedule areas in the Northeast could also be kept out of the purview of the CAB,” said a senior government official engaged in the consultations process.

The ILP regime is under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. In terms of Section 2 of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, the Inner Line Permit system is prevalent in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Citizens of other states require ILP for visiting these three states.

The main objective of the ILP system is to prevent settlement of other Indian nationals in the three states in order to protect the indigenous population.

Under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, autonomous councils and districts were created in tribal areas in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. The autonomous councils and districts enjoy certain executive and legislative powers.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, in order to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who come to India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don’t possess proper documents.

The Union Home Minister is holding a series of meetings with chief ministers of northeastern states and leaders of socio-cultural bodies, students’ organisations and political parties from the region beginning Friday on plans to amend the Citizenship Act.

Those whom Shah is holding discussions on Friday, Saturday and on December 3 with include North East Students’ Organisation, All Bodo Students’ Union and students bodies from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh.

The meetings with the chief ministers will be held on Saturday, an official said.

Leaders of several political parties — both regional and state chiefs of national political parties — and heads of socio-cultural organisations have also been invited for the discussions, the official said.

Shah is holding the meetings in the wake of strong protests by many organisations against the bill in the northeast.

Meanwhile, 12 MPs, most of them belonging to the Congress and from the Northeast, wrote a letter to the Prime Minister saying civil society organisations of the region are also opposing the Bill.

“We collectively believe if such a Bill is implemented uniformly across the nation, it will particularly render the indigenous and tribal population of the Northeast vulnerable to displacement,” the letter signed by the 12 members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha said.

This CAB was an election promise of the BJP in the 2014 and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A large section of people and organisations in the Northeast have opposed the Bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

The Congress, Trinamool Congress, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and a few other political parties have been steadfastly opposing the Bill, claiming that citizenship can’t be given on the basis of religion.

The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the Bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha’s approval. But the government did not introduce it in the Rajya Sabha, apparently due to vehement protests in the Northeast.

The Bill lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.

According to the earlier Bill, those who came to India on or before December 31, 2014, will benefit from the proposed legislation after it becomes an act.

There is a possibility of changes in the cut-off date too, another official said.

The Modi government has listed the Bill in its items of business for the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament and is set to push for its passage.

The BJP and its Hindutva affiliates have insisted that minorities from the three countries, which include a significant number of Hindus, should be granted Indian citizenship.

Source: Economic Times


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