We have been hearing the debate on Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 and seen series of protest rallies. It has created havoc in the region. The two positions being taken by the indigenous people of North East India and that of the Government of India do not seem to find a meeting point unless we have a true understanding of the issue. At the outset, this is a serious issue with which no political party should play political game in order to get votes. I am aware of the position taken by each of State in the region while the depth of the stand is very different.
For instance, Meghalaya’s is in the form of Assembly Resolution and Mizoram seems to be in that line while Manipur’s is to provide a Clause in the Bill or approve the Bill proposed by the State so that citizens of the State are protected. The Government of Nagaland seems to be contended with the provision under Article 371(A) though it still wishes the Central Government to review the decision taken by the Lok Sabha on the 9th January in passing the Bill. In Assam, indigenous people have taken a strong position in opposing the Bill and demanding not to introduce and pass during the Budget Session starting from 31st of January 2019. The position of Indigenous people of Tripura is also very clear in opposing the Bill.
The following are few of the questions I have:
1. Will the repeatedly assured language saying that indigenous people will not be affected by the Bill be true or it is simply a political language?
2. Can the provision of a Clause to protect indigenous people of these States be sufficient to truly protect them if the Bill is passed and becomes an Act?
3. Will it not overshadow such Bill like Bengal Frontier Regulation Act under which Inner Line Permit is being maintained is many parts of the region?
4. In Assam alone we are informed that 40 lakhs immigrants are not included in its National Registration of Citizens (NRC) and if another 40 lakh are come in under the Bill can the State bear the cost?
5. What is the meaning of “entire nation should share the burden of immigrants”? Will any other States of India be willing to take 40+ lakh immigrants who are already in Assam and if many more come in?
6. When such a huge number of people come and live in these States are they not going to eat food when the existing populace is already facing shortage of essential commodities?
7. Will they not use electricity energy and drink water which is in shortage in the region?
8. Will they not demand gas connection which is already a serious crisis that people stand in long queue to get cylinder?
9. Will they not in later stage when granted citizenship demand for jobs and even reservation for them?
I do not see any positive rather than getting votes during election once in five years. Is it worth risking?
Dr Shimreingam Shimray Jorhat