A consultative committee in Arunachal Pradesh on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill has put forward a two-point recommendation to the Centre after talking with multiple stakeholders, saying that there was an “unequivocal” opposition to the CAB, state officials confirmed on Thursday.
The CAB proposes to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, by relaxing the eligibility rules for an immigrant belonging to six minority (non-Muslim) religions – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan in getting Indian citizenship.
On Wednesday, the Arunachal committee, headed by state Home Minister Bamang Felix, held a final meeting with representatives of all political parties, community-based organisations, and student and youth bodies and finalised the recommendations, a government statement said.
“Home Minister also informed that Chief Minister Pema Khandu, in his cabinet meeting, had thoroughly discussed the recommendations of the consultative committee which has taken into consideration the suggestions of all stakeholders, prioritising the sentiment and safeguarding the rights of the indigenous people,” the statement said.
The first point of the resolution said it “unequivocally” opposes the CAB in its current form, while the second point suggests that provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 (BEFR), and that of the Chin Hills Regulations, 1896 (CHR), should be incorporated into the Bill.
The second point says, “For the state of Arunachal Pradesh, all provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873 (Regulation 5 of 1873) and all provisions of section 22,23,38 and 40 of the Chin Hills Regulations 1896 (Regulations No 5 of 1896) shall be deemed to have been enacted under this Act and shall have effect accordingly, and that the provisions of this Act shall not be applicable to any person who has been residing in or has entered or may enter the state of Arunachal Pradesh in violation of the BEFR 1873 on the aforesaid or the aforesaid provisions of CHR 1896 or the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1961(Act no 23 of1961) as amended from time to time.”
It is pertinent to note that the BEFR is the backbone of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) – a special permit required by “outsiders” from other regions of India to enter the states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram. The CHR similarly puts regulations on the presence of “outsiders”.
Speaking to The Indian Express, All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU) president Hawa Bagang said, “We had conveyed to the committee that we strongly oppose the CAB – if you want, implement it in Bihar or Uttar Pradesh, but keep the Northeast out of it.”
The committee’s recommendation comes at a time when the entire Northeast is seeing a wave of protests against the proposed Bill. In Assam, powerful groups like the All Assam Students’ Union have repeatedly said that the Bill violates the Assam Accord, which provides the cut-off of March 24, 1971, for identification of ‘foreigners’ in the state.
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