Imphal, Jan 31,
Mass protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in North East states of India turned deaf to the Government of India, as President Ram Nath Kovind in his speech at Rajya Sabha today assured passage of the Bill in the Indian Parliament.
President Ram Nath Kovind addressed legislators from the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha in the Central Hall of Parliament today on the first day of the Budget Session.
He backed the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has met with stiff opposition from political parties and people in the Northeastern states. “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will make it easier to provide Indian citizenship to those who had to take refuge in India after facing oppression somewhere else,” he said.
The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess necessary documents.
In his speech given at the Rajya Sabha today, the President said that the Bill will seek to address “injustice and deprivation” in society.
“Mindful of the injustice and deprivation in society, my government has been working towards reforming the legal system so as to ensure social and economic justice. The Citizenship Amendment Bill will help in securing of Indian citizenship by those victims who were persecuted and were compelled to seek refuge in India. These people cannot be blamed since they were victims of circumstances”, he said.
Despite the BJP’s insistence that the Bill will help “persecuted minorities” from neighboring Islamic countries, citizens of India, and especially Northeast are wary of the consequences that the Bill might have on the demographic composition in the region, where illegal Bangladeshi immigration is already a huge concern.
It may be mentioned that the indigenous people of Tripura have been reduced to a small minority now as Bangla people make up a majority of the population. Leaders such as Assam’s Akhil Gogoi have warned that a similar fate awaits the rest of the region if the Bill is passed. Student organization (AASU) leader Samujjal Bhattacharya has also slammed the Bill for its communal nature (as it deprives only Muslim migrants of citizenship status) and called it “unconstitutional.
The Week had also reported that the Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh has called for a review of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
The news journal quoted Biren as saying - “Yes, I am going to Delhi. I have decided to ask the Union Home Minister to review the decision to pass the Citizenship Amendment Bill.” Singh added that there was lot of misconceptions regarding the bill among people. “We must address it,” he said.
Earlier, Rajnath Singh has asked all Chief Ministers from Northeast to discuss the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The other three Chief Ministers from the BJP in the region, including Assam’s Sarbananda Sonowal, Arunachal Pradesh’s Pema Khandu and Tripura’s Biplab Deb, have decided not to express their personal views on the contentious bill. Interestingly, N. Biren Singh is the only Chief Minister among the four BJP CMs of NE to question the Bill.
It is to be mentioned that the Bill has been pending passage in the Upper House after it was passed at the Lok Sabha on January 8, with the opposition’s raising of hue-and-cry over it and believed that the BJP will try to pass the Bill in the current budget session which is expected to last until February 13.
Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.