Two activists from Meghalaya on Thursday filed a PIL in the Supreme Court against the Citizenship Amendment Act saying the new law is unconstitutional because it does not take into account the realities of the small trans-border tribal communities which live in Meghalaya as well as in Bangladesh, like Khasi and Garo.
In a press statement, Mantre Passah and Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh said, “We are challenging the said Act because it attacks the fundamental rights of the individuals belonging to the tribal communities, with respect to their persecution as a trans-border tribal community as well as their status in neighbouring countries, including the Khasi-Pnar, Garo and other smaller tribal communities here in the state of Meghalaya bordering the country of Bangladesh.”
The petition from Meghalaya adds to the long list of petitions already in the apex court against the CAA. The petitioners said that they will be represented by lawyers Gautam Bhatia, Vrinda Bhandari and Malvika Prasad.
“We have put forward a perspective from the state of Meghalaya in the petition which is different from what the other petitioners have said. The petition talks about the specific issue of trans-border tribal communities many of whom follow indigenous religions and do not identify as being of a part of any of the six selected religious communities. The CAA is anti-secular but for us it is also against the tribal ways of life,” Pyrtuh told The Indian Express.
He added, “The CAA has failed to take into account the realities of trans-border communities and distorted the tribal way of life. If a Khasi person, who is neither a Hindu or Christian, is persecuted in Bangladesh and comes into India, then his application will not be entertained through the provisions of the CAA. Moreover, there is a double-discrimination because the Sixth Schedule tribal areas of Meghalaya are anyway exempt from CAA.”
The CAA, in its current form, exempts a large part of the state of Meghalaya, because practically the entire state falls under the ambit of the Sixth Schedule. For refugees, Pyrtuh said, the petitioners have appealed for a “fair, just, equitable immigration regime which treats everyone equally”.
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