As Home Minister Amit Shah began a series of meetings with stakeholders from Northeastern states on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) on Friday, sources said the government may exempt the Northeast states that have the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime from the CAB. Exemption of such regions in Northeast states which come under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution is also under consideration.
This would virtually mean that Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram may be kept out of the purview of CAB, as well as certain autonomously administered regions in Assam and other states such as Bodo Territorial District Area.
The CAB, which aims to give refugees from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan — unless they are Muslim — Indian citizenship, is likely to be introduced in the ongoing session of Parliament. Raising the issue during Zero Hour in Lok Sabha on Thursday, BJP MP Dr R K Ranjan Singh said, “I would like to draw the attention of the Government of India to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that is going to be placed in this winter session. It is also reliably learnt that some safeguards are likely to be given to Northeastern states. However, a few days ago, it was brought out in media that an exemption from this citizenship law will be given only to those states where the Inner Line Permit system is enforced. That means the law will not be applied in the states of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram.”
Singh said this was causing a lot of discomfort in his state. “Other Northeastern states like Manipur shall come under the purview of this new citizenship law. There is a lot of hue and cry in my state of Manipur. People are apprehensive… They believe that if this new law is enacted, there will be huge influx of migrants. So they vociferously demand exemption from this law. Supporting the sentiments of my people, I would like to urge the Union government, particularly the MHA, that an exemption clause or safeguard clause may kindly be added for the state of Manipur in the proposed legislation,” he said.
Twelve non-BJP MPs are also learnt to have met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and urged him to exclude Northeastern states from the Bill. They have argued that if it comes into effect, tribal populations would be vulnerable to displacement.
Meanwhile, the Home Minister began meetings with politicians and civil society members from Northeast states. The first two meetings were held Friday evening with representatives from Tripura and Mizoram.
Shah’s discussions on Friday, Saturday and December 3 will be with North East Students’ Organisation, All Bodo Students’ Union and students bodies from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh. Meetings with CM are on Saturday, an official said. Leaders of political parties and heads of socio-cultural organisations have also been invited for discussion. Shah is holding the meetings in the wake of protests against the CAB in the Northeast.
After the meeting with Shah, Tripura CM Biplab Deb tweeted: “Attended the important meeting today chaired by Home Minister of India Shri @AmitShah ji regarding consultation on proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill at New Delhi along with other dignitaries. During the meeting, we reviewed various aspects of CAB.”