Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh has assured a delegation of senior political leaders from the North Eastern Region that he will discuss the draft Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2016 with other political parties and civil society groups. Earlier, Union Home Ministry spokesperson, Ashok Prasad had informed that each and every individual application for Indian citizenship will have to be inquired into by the District Magistrate (DM), who will analyze each case and give recommendations to the state government. The state government also has to do its inquiry through its agencies, he said while also assuring that nobody would be granted Indian citizenship without the consent of the respective state government.
The senior leaders are led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who is heading the 7-member delegation of all NE political parties to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and has been hailed as an ‘iconic NE Hero’ for stalling the contentious bill in the Rajya Sabha.
Sangma, after meeting the Union Home Minister stated that it is very positive indication and now everything will move forward only after detailed consultation with everyone.
Meanwhile, former Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, on February 4, 2019 stated that until the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is withdrawn, protests against it will intensify, especially in the Northeast. He was addressing a protest rally against the Bill in Agartala, and said if it became an Act, it would destroy the fundamental facet of the Indian Constitution.
Sarkar also alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party government is determined to make the Bill a law for its narrow political interests despite widespread protests, as the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to migrants from six non-Muslim minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. If it becomes law, “outsiders” could overwhelm the locals in the northeast.
Sarkar, who was Chief Minister of Tripura for 20 years since 1998, pointed out that numerous ethnic, religion and linguistic groups, tribals and non-tribals are living in harmony in the Northeast. Peace has been established in the Northeast after taming decades of terrorism. BJP leaders are fuelling the fire for their political and electoral gains.
As mentioned earlier, Prime Minister, Narendra Damodardas Modi’s is appealing to West Bengal’s ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) to support the Bill in Parliament to give the refugees living in India the right to citizenship. Modi, while speaking at the rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar, North 24 Parganas district, home to the Dalit Matua community, elucidated that India is the only place that can provide shelter to thousands of Hindus, Sikhs and refugees of other communities, who came from neighbouring countries to save themselves from communal violence. This only shows that he is in no mood to withdraw the bill.
It is strange that the Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, through the Goods & Services Tax (GST) implemented in India since 1st July, 2017, speaks of One Nation One Tax, and there are various Laws that have been amended, including the one on Triple Talaq to justify that the nation should have a uniform Law. However, now in the case of CAB, Rajnath Singh has assured on the Floor of the Parliament that the Bill will be applicable across the nation, not just for Assam or North East.
Now, Rajnath Singh has assured the North Eastern region senior leaders that he will take their view also which only shows that the ruling NDA will speak on the CAB with different interests for the NE and the so called Main Land India, as Modi did at the rally in West Bengal’s Thakurnagar.
Meanwhile, leaders of North East Students’ Organisation, which is spearheading the protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill across the northeastern states, called on Chief Minister Sangma, leaders of Biju Janata Dal, Janata Dal United and leaders of regional political parties from the northeastern states urging them to vote against the Bill if tabled in the Rajya Sabha.
The Bill which was already passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 seeks to remove hurdles for eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship.
Sadly, the CAB has now turned into an election agenda, where the Ruling Government has divided the nation by assuring different ideologies on the same bill in different constituencies aiming at the vote bank, while the region burns.