North East Forum for Indigenous People

Guwahati, August 9, 2019:

The North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP) on Friday submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to consider the adverse effect prior to the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

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The Coordination Committee of the NEFIP, a conglomeration of various civil societies which came into existence as a consequence against the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 on January 8, 2019, in the Lok Sabha, upholding the aspirations of the indigenous people inhabiting the 7 States of NE India.

In its memorandum, the committee alleged if the Bill is enacted, it will create a demographic imbalance to the already fragile indigenous population and pose a grave danger to the very existence of the indigenous people of NE as a whole irrespective of the size of the population of the communities.

The Committee further complained that such a Bill shall have severe impacts on the ongoing process of the NRC monitored by the Supreme Court as the crucial dates of reference to recognize an immigrant for naturalization is different. “It negates the section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 introduced in pursuance to the Assam Accord of 1985 and shall jeopardize the whole exercise already carried out”, read the statement.

It also added, “ It will be incorrect to assume that all illegal immigrants who profess these three faiths have entered India surreptitiously are due to persecution on the ground of religion in their home country, as most of them are economic migrants. Although the assurances were given by the BJP leaders that the Bill will not harm the indigenous people’s economic, traditional and cultural interest, however, the fact remains even now almost 80 percent of the economy is controlled by non-Indigenous inhabitants of the region so to further add Non-indigenous population will not only aggravate the already marginalized indigenous population but supplant the local population to the point of extinction.”

Also the committee added, “It has been argued that the State Government cannot be bypassed for process for naturalization, this being true however a person that is not recommended for naturalization in a state can apply for naturalization from another state and become a citizen of India, thus there is no way to stop them. In such case, a State can allow millions of foreigners to become Indians who cannot be denied entry into any State hence. At the moment, it is estimated that there are 4 million illegal immigrants in Assam who cannot be granted citizenship under NRC. Whereas, when CAB is enacted these foreigners will be easily accommodated as legal citizens under one pretext or other, this shall further worsen the present demographic crisis.”

In its official statement, the North East Forum for Indigenous People expressed concerned with the two Notifications of September 7, 2015, vide No.GSR685(E) by which the Passport (Entry into India) Rules of 1950 was amended whereby those foreigners from the said three countries who had entered into India by December 31, 2014 are legalized.

The second Notification vide No.GSR686(E) amended the Foreigners Orders of 1948 by which the restrictive rules are relaxed for these illegal immigrants are nothing but the forerunner of the CAB. These relaxations of the laws are found detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people of NE India.

The North East Forum for Indigenous People questioned the wisdom of the Union Government as to why it prefers foreigners to its indigenous citizens in the NE India as all these initiatives aimed at protecting the foreigners at the expense of the indigenous citizens who have lived in their ancestral lands since time immemorial.

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