Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday said the government intended to expel all illegal immigrants not just from Assam but the entire country even as he assailed the Congress for alienating the northeast from the rest of the nation.
Addressing the fourth conclave of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) in Guwahati, Shah said, “Our intention is to expel illegal immigrants from the entire country and not just Assam.”
Shah further alleged the prolonged militancy in the region was due to the apathy of successive Congress governments. “The Congress governments sowed the seeds of strife in the northeast. The party did not care for the northeast and because of that militancy flourished. It always believed in the policy of divide and rule,” PTI quoted Shah as saying.
While most of Shah’s speech was centered around illegal migrants, the chief ministers of Nagaland and Meghalaya expressed apprehensions regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and requested the Home Minister to take all states from the region into confidence before bringing in the legislation again.
Speaking at the NEDA conclave, Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio said the “highly controversial” Citizenship (Amendment) Bill would change the demography of the Northeast.
“We believe it will change the demography of the Northeast. We need to understand the ground situation,” Rio said. Rio also said that the negotiations on the Naga Peace accord were at an advanced stage. “We are hopeful of a solution very soon. We have also formed a joint legislation group,” PTI quoted Rio as saying.
On his part, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told Amit Shah that the Northeast had fears regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and asked if the Centre would bypass discussions with the states before reintroducing the Bill.
“What will happen after CAB? Will people continuously come from Bangladesh? Will there be any deadline or a continuous flow? We in Northeast have such fears,” Sangma said.
Requesting the Centre to invite all stakeholders to discuss and arrive at a consensus over the issue, Sangma urged Shah to look into the interests of the people of the Northeast.
“We are under the sixth schedule. So will the CAB overlook local laws? Please invite us and look into the interests of the people of the Northeast. Remove our fears. I believe you (Shah) will take care of our fears,” Sangma told Shah.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, however, was more forthcoming on the issue and requested Amit Shah to exclude the Northeast from the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. He further said all political parties that supported the contentious bill were on the “verge of suicide”.
“If at all, it (the bill) has to be implemented, then please see if the Northeast can be excluded from it. I request you to look into the vulnerability of the region. The Citizenship Bill is a very very sensitive issue here. In most of the states where political parties supported it, they are on the verge of suicide,” PTI quoted Zoramthanga as saying.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 but was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha. It provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in the country, even if they do not possess any document.