Union minister of state Kiren Rijiju at a press conference in Itanagar on Sunday Credit: EastMojo Image

Itanagar: Union minister of state (MoS) for home affairs Kiren Rijiju on Sunday said that the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB) will never be brought to the Northeast even if it is implemented in other parts of the country.

“The Centre will not introduce any bill or law that would harm the interests of the people of Arunachal Pradesh and Northeast. Prime minister Narendra Modi during his speech at Aalo has already announced that his government will not take steps or will bring in any law of bill which will be against the interests of the people,” Rijiju said.

“Such a categorical statement made by the Prime Minister means everything,” Rijiju said while addressing a press conference at the BJP headquarters in Itanagar.

Though, Modi did not specifically mention about the bill during his rally in Aalo, he said that the government will protect the culture, tradition and interests of the people of the region. Likewise, he did not mention CAB in his two rallies in Assam.

The bill, which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian extraction, was passed in the Lok Sabha in January.

The bill was to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in February during the last session of the Parliament. But stiff resistance from Assam and other north-eastern states by student organisations, indigenous groups and also from BJP leaders, including chief minister Pema Khandu dissuaded the government from tabling the legislation.

However, raking things up once again, BJP national president Amit Shah, in a recently held rally in Assam, declared that his party would re-introduce the bill in Parliament if his party was re-elected to power.

On the controversial issue, union minster Rijiju said that people should understand that the Citizenship Bill is not only for Arunachal or Northeast, but, is applicable for all the states of the country.

“If states like West Bengal want to bring the bill and if Gujarat is supporting it, why should we oppose it? We should oppose things which are not in the interest of the state and region. Why would we take stand against things which is suitable for other states? If Rajasthan wants to accept the prosecuted Christians, Hindus or Muslims, let its state government take a call, why should the people of the Northeast oppose the same?” the union minister said.

“Through the media I would once again like to clarify that we (BJP) will never do things or take any step in regards to the Citizenship Bill or any other bill, which would hamper the larger interest of the people of Northeast,” he emphasised.

The MoS said that his government listens to its people and allies and believes in discussing matters first with the people concerned and so it did in the case of the CAB.

“It was for this reason we dropped the bill and never introduced the bill in the Upper House. It was for the same reason that even chief minister Khandu, despite knowing that the bill would have no impact in Arunachal, met the PM and requested him to revoke the bill saying that people of Arunachal had apprehensions about the bill,” Rijiju claimed.

On widespread crimes in the region, Rijiju said that the total crime rate in Northeast has gone down by 79% after the BJP came to power in 2014.

“Incidents like kidnapping, militancy, demands for ransom, killing of civilians and security personnel have gone down by 79% since 2014. The efforts of BJP and PM Modi to maintain peace in the Northeast region have been quite successful,” he said.

Speaking about Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, the union minister said the Act was enforced in almost half the north-eastern states after 1990 and since the Congress came to power. “However, the BJP government has within the last five years revoked it from most of the states. A notification would soon be released in this regard,” the minister said.

The Centre has also been making full efforts to revoke AFSPA from Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh. However, killing of innocent people by underground outfits acts as a hurdle. He added.

Two persons were allegedly killed by suspected militants in Tirap and Longding districts in a mere span of 48 hours.

While Jaley Anna, a supporter of the National People’s Party (NPP) was allegedly beaten to death by suspected NSCN (IM) militants on Friday in Tirap; the former zilla parishad member Seliam Wangsa was shot dead by suspected underground members while returning home after attending an election campaign meeting in Longding on Saturday night.

Condemning the incident, Rijiju, said that orders have been given out by the state and Central governments to the security personnel and officers concerned to make sure that such incidents do not repeat in the future and appropriate action is taken against the guilty.

The security forces have already started their operations and nakas have been set in many places to maintain law and order, Rijiju said.

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