Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2106 continue across Northeast

Kohima: The Naga People’s Front Legislators’ Party (NPFLS) on Friday accused the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP) in Nagaland for misleading the people by citing Article 371 (A) and Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 to silence the opposition over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The statement came a day after NDPP sought to displel confusion regarding the contentious bill on Thursday.

CM Neiphiu Rio-led the NDPP is the major partner of the People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) government, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a part, in Nagaland.

The party highlighted that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 relates to granting of Indian Citizenship whereas 1873 BEFRA vis-à-vis Inner Line Permit is granting of permission to visit certain place/region for a certain period of time. These two subjects cannot and should not be clubbed up together but should be always different because it is different to each other by law.

Countering the NDPP’s statement that village councils can grant citizenship as per 371(A) of Constitution of India, NPFLS hit it as “totally wrong and mischievous and intentional misleading of Naga people”.

It further stated that the act of Parliament, in regard to the Bill is to grant citizenship of India but not for citizenship of a village and thus the argument of bringing the village councils or Nagaland Village & Area Council Act 1978 into the picture is irrelevant.

It went on to say that NDPP’s stand on reviewing the Bill was misleading “given that their MP in Lok Sabha Tokheho Yepthomi has not raised his objection in the LS”, which is “heights of betrayal and insult to the intellect of the Naga people”.

It then clarified that the exemption of Nagaland “from the purview of the 73rd constitution amendment of 1992”, which infringes the special of provision of Article 371(A), “was done during the Congress regime in the State as well as Centre”, and questioned whether the same can be expected from NDPP and its coalition partner.

It boldly read: “As a matter of fact, it is not at the discretion of the BJP in Delhi, because their party is not in majority in Rajya Sabha. Therefore, it cannot be passed as simply as it was passed in Lok Sabha. Moreover, there cannot be two laws in respect to one issue, in the sense that a Bill cannot differ between Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. In other words, if this Bill has to be reviewed, it has to go back to LS before it is finally passed in RS. This is the parliamentary procedure.”

Meanwhile, the NPFLS has appealed all legal luminaries of the state to come out with their point of view and interpretation in regard to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, so as to enlighten the people further without giving it any political colour.

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