SHILLONG, May 10: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which arrived here on its two-day visit to the state to take the views of stakeholders was greeted by a crescendo of opposition which was voiced by a number of organizations.
The Committee which met stakeholders on the issue of the Bill which, if made a law will enable people belonging to six religious communities to get Indian citizenship, was instead faced with several demands for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Meghalaya.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 with an aim to provide citizenships to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
“All opinions and views taken today will be compiled in a report which will be submitted to the Parliament,” the Chairman of the committee and BJP Lok Sabha MP from Meerut, Rajendra Agrawal said after this meeting.
Asked if the JPC will hold its sitting in all states in the North East, Agrawal said, “We have held sittings in Guwahati, Silchar and Shillong. If need be, the Committee can think of holding sittings in these states later.”
Earlier, North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) leaders led by its chairman, Samuel B Jyrwa and adviser, Samujjal Bhattacharya met the JPC team for nearly an hour and submitted a petition opposing the Bill.
“In totality, we oppose the proposed Bill and demand that the Inner Line Permit system is introduced for the entire region and constitutional safeguards should be provided to the people of NE states,” NESO, a conglomeration of students organizations from all NE states, said in its petition to the Committee.
According to NESO, the Bill is another effort to “encourage infiltration” of the Hindus from Bangladesh into the different states of the region.
Jyrwa later informed that the content and purpose of the Bill has shocked the people of the region when it took religion as the criteria to decide citizenship, which is a false notion.
“We shall resist creation of another Tripura in any part of the North East region,” the NESO chairman said.
He further stated that the proposed bill is the latest example that “lawmakers of the country have no regard for the future of the North-eastern region.”
On the other hand, Samujjal said the proposed bill that will turn states in the Northeast a “dumping ground” of illegal Bangladeshis can never be accepted by the people of the region.
According to the NESO leaders, the Bill would also defeat the purpose of signing the Assam Accord where March 25, 1971 is cut off year for detection and deportation of foreigners from Assam.
Khasi Students Union (KSU) general secretary Donald V Thabah meanwhile slammed the Central government while accusing it of attempting to make Meghalaya and the North East region a dumping ground for illegal immigrants.
“The Bill will pose a dangerous threat to the indigenous people living in Meghalaya and the NE region taking into consideration that there are crores of Hindus in Bangladesh,” he said adding “It is irrelevant due to the fact that our state is even opposing to influx by inter-state migrants.”
Also registering its strong opposition against the Bill, Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) general secretary Robertjune Kharjahrin said this is because Meghalaya will only be made a soft target as the state is yet to implement the Inner Line Permit.
Quoting some reports, Kharjahrin while pointing out the danger of the Bill, said out of 16.63 crore population in Bangladesh, 1.4 crore are Hindus besides 75 lakh of its youth have left the country in search of jobs.
He said that the report also stated that around 10 hectares of land in Bangladesh submerged under water which due to this around 2 lakh people are migrating to other countries every year.
Meanwhile, the Garo Students Union, Hynñiewtrep National Youth Front, Federation of Khasi Jaiñtia and Garo People, Social Organisations of Meghalaya Against Land Alienation, and other groups and individuals also met the JPC.