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CAA- difference in perspectives

by IT Web Admin
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IT Desk

Imphal, Dec 20

Assam has been constantly burning in spite of every attempt by the government to shut the protest down. The news has somehow travelled all the way to Delhi and then to the rest of India. The protest to scrap CAA, which has been confined only to the northeast, has now reached various university campuses and streets of India. People flooding the streets in a number of cities have painted a picture of united India against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act. Though the protests are to scrap CAA, there is a stark difference between the narratives pushed forward by northeast and the rest of India.

The rest of India has just come out on the streets after the bill became an Act, with the objection that the Act is unconstitutional in its nature with its exclusionary politics that is discriminatory against the Muslims. On the other hand, the northeast has been protesting ever since the bill was introduced, tabled, scrapped, reintroduced, and passed with the same narrative that the bill, now Act, is anti-indigenous and poses a threat to their identity, culture, and socio-economic and political status in their own land.

The movement that started from northeast by the indigenous people as protection of indigenous people from the immigrant-settlers, has turned into a religion-based movement as soon as it reached Delhi. While the rest of India feel for the Muslim immigrants and call the Act anti-Muslim, the indigenous people of northeast are not contesting on the idea of religion but solely on the basis of protecting their indigeneity from the immigrant-settlers. The inclusion or exclusion of Muslims from the Act does not make a difference to the indigenous people of northeast. To them, both cases are only about speeding up the naturalization of settlers. They have witnessed the impact of immigrant-settlers flooding into Tripura where the indigenous people have been outnumbered and marginalized, a classic case of settler colonialism- the same which the whole of northeast is scared of, and CAA is only going to make it worse.

Another issue that the rest of India is worried about is the BJP government’s announcement for a pan India NRC. The fear is that CAA will legalize the non-muslim illegal immigrants before NRC and, therefore, NRC will forcefully send the illegal Muslims immigrants away from India. On the top of that, NRC can make thousands of poor immigrants at risk of losing their citizenship due to the lack of proper documents. On the contrary, the concern for NRC in the northeast, especially Assam, has always been completely different. It has always been about protecting the indigenous people, their lands, their rights, culture, economy, polity.

The continuous influx of these settlers in massive scale over the years has pushed the poor indigenous people to the margins in their own land. Similarly, the Manipur Peoples (Protection) Bill, 2018, which was presented as an option to protect the indigenous people and to prevent the influx of settlers (both from neighbouring countries and other Indian states), which has created a threat to employment opportunities for the indigenous people and availability of other limited resources. The Bill has a base year of 1951 for the identification process with a month’s time for the non-Manipuris to register, but is still yet to get the president’s assent. It has a provision to extend upto six months, and five years for trade licenses. Similarly, the agreement between AMSU and AMSCOC and the then government clearly mentioned the base year as 1951. The rest of India view NRC and CAA only as an anti-Muslim agenda of the current BJP government while the northeast is concerned about the continuity and development of the indigenous people. Another stark difference is in the immediacy of the reactions.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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