Guwahati, September 12, 2019:
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (popularly known as CAB), which seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jain migrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan, looms on the horizon yet again.
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According to the Bill, persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis and Jains, if they have lived in India for 6 years, even though they might not possess any documents, will become citizens of India.
However, the introduction of the CAB at a time when the National Register of Citizenship (NRC) is still making its tremors felt, posits some rather interesting questions.
The NRC is being updated in Assam from which 19 lakh people were excluded. However, the NRC has been updated to identify illegals and send them back to their countries of origin.
It can be argued that the CAB will change the scenario, as the definition of citizen changes as per this Bill. On the one hand, the NRC says that those who migrated post-1971 will not be included in the lost. However, as per Amit Shah, a person who has completed six years in India, will get the citizenship.
Bengali Hindus who were declared as illegals will be legalized if this Bill is passed. This nullifies the process of NRC which cost 1,500 crores and will definitely affect the demography of the Northeastern region, because economic migration has been going on since time immemorial. The Bill does not clear the plan and leaves the future of the people undecided. Confusion regarding the NRC can prove fatal as it is not coming to a conclusion. All the concerned parties raising their voices against it proves that no one wants this issue to die.
The Bill can undo a lot of hard work, taxpayers’ money, and can destroy the hopes of the people of Assam. The dilemma which has been caused due to the process of NRC, is still a question mark for the people of Assam.
In the recent Conclave which was held in Guwahati, the Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma has clearly stated that the Bill could open the floodgates to an invasion.
Making an appeal to the Home Minister, Sangma warned that the contentious Bill had the potential of upsetting the demographic composition of the entire Northeast region.”In the future, Bangladeshis will keep pouring in after it is Bill. What is going to stop them?”, he contended.
At the same time, the Mizoram CM Zoramthanga exhorted that the Northeast be excluded from the ambit of the ‘sensitive’ Bill.
Even Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio expressed caution regarding the Bill. Rio said that all the Northeastern states need to coordinate to identify illegal immigrants, whom he termed as “a thorn in the flesh.”
“The demography is changing, and tomorrow, many of us will be in trouble”, Rio said, adding that the situation must be “handled carefully and sanely.”
Meanwhile, Northeast India prepares to protest once again, as the indigenous people of the region fear that they stand to lose their rights if the controversial Bill is enacted.
In Guwahati too, protest rallies were called by AASU, which spearheaded the anti-foreigner agitation from 1975-85. They were supported by the Northeast Indian students.
It is believed that this believed to the Northeast because of the threat to all the local rights — such as the ILP, Article 371, local land rights, etc.
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