Despite exemptions to execute the proposed legislation on citizenship in the Autonomous District Council areas and regions under the Inner Line Permit (ILP), the agitating organisations and political parties remain firm on their demand for withdrawing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), claiming the exemptions would not be able to check infiltrations or protect the demographic positions of the indigenous people of the northeast region.
However, in a significant development, the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) President and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Tuesday expressed happiness over the Center’s decision to exempt Mizoram and some other northeastern states from the purview of the proposed CAB.
The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, following a marathon debate which continued past midnight on Tuesday.
According to the provisions of the CAB, the new legislation would not be applied in the 10 Tribal Autonomous District Council (TADC) areas of Assam (3 TADC), Meghalaya (3), Mizoram (3) and Tripura (one).
Also, the new legislation on citizenship would not be executed in three northeastern states — Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram — where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime is applicable.
The ten TADCs are constituted under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution while the ILP notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873, to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a stipulated period.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah already declared that Manipur would be brought under the ILP regime and with that the problems of all the northeastern states would be taken care of as mentioned in the Citizenship Bill.
The North East Students’ Organisations (NESO), a conglomerate of eight students and youth bodies, the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), the NGO Coordination Committee (NCC) in Mizoram, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), Tripura Rajya Upajati Ganamukti Parishad (TRUGP), Tripura’s oldest tribal-based party and other political parties and organizations are determined to continue their agitations demanding complete withdrawal of the bill.
The influential body NESO spearheads the stir in the northeastern states (excluding Sikkim), inhabited by around 45.58 million people with 27-28 per cent indigenous tribals.
NESO Chairman Samuel B. Jyrwa said the TADCs in Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura exist and ILP enforced in Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram for many decades but could not check the infiltration and demographic structures of the indigenous people of the North-East.
“While the TADCs and ILPs don’t have full control over the foreign nationals, the infiltration outside the TADC and ILP notified areas would also affect the demographic pattern of the North-East,” Jyrwa said.
The IPFT, junior ally of the ruling BJP in Tripura, is also determined to continue their stir against CAB.
“The tribals were once a majority in Tripura. With the influx from then East Pakistan and now Bangladesh, the indigenous people have become a minority (31 per cent). This is despite the state and Central governments having taken a series of steps,” IPFT Assistant General Secretary and party spokesman Mangal Debbarma said.
Senior Communist Party of India-Marxist tribal leader and former Tripura Tribal Welfare Minister Jitendra Chaudhury said the formulation of the proposed CAB is entirely against the very principles of the constitutions and idea of Indian nationhood.
“After the Partition in 1947 and the subsequent developments, the influx of crores of people during the past several decades had already flooded the eastern part of the country, causing multiple problems in the social, cultural, political and economic life of eastern India,” Chaudhury, President of the TRUGP, said.
The Joint Movement Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (JMACAB), a conglomeration of many tribal-based local and regional parties, NGOs and student and youth organisations of Tripura, including INPT, has also decided to continue their stirs.
“The proposed exemptions in the CAB would not be able to check infiltration and migrations of people into the North-East. We want full protection to our life, culture, the demographic structure of the indigenous people,” INPT General Secretary Jagadhish Debbarma said.
The ruling MNF (in Mizoram), an ally of the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance at the Centre, however, thanked the government to exempt Mizoram and two other northeastern states from the purview of the proposed citizenship legislation.
The MNF President and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga while addressing the party members in Aizawl said that due to the collective agitations and efforts of the people, various organisations and churches the union government took the exemption decision.
The CAB seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Jains from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India till December 31, 2014. (IANS)