Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu on Tuesday assured that his government will do everything possible to exclude Arunachal Pradesh from the purview of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB).
Replying to a supplementary question on the contentious Bill raised by Congress MLA Ninong Ering during the question hour of the second session of the ongoing 7th Legislative Assembly session in Itanagar, Khandu said his government is against the Bill and if it is brought before Parliament again, the chief ministers of Northeast would go to New Delhi and oppose it.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 aims to provide citizenship to those who had been forced to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of persecution in their home countries. They are primarily Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 last year, had led to political backlash in Assam and caused unrest in the rest of north-east. The Bill could not be taken up in Rajya Sabha following the protests and opposition from other political parties.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a matter of concern for all Northeastern states. Concerns regarding the same were also apprised to the then home minister that even if the government of India implements the Bill, it will dilute the identity of the Northeastern people,” Khandu said.
The chief minister informed the house that immediately after the CAB was passed in Lok Sabha last year, he along with his Manipur counterpart N Biren Singh went to Delhi and met the then Union home minister Rajnath Singh and appealed him to exempt Northeast, including Arunachal Pradesh, from the purview of CAB.
Replying to another supplementary question raised by National People’s Party (NPP) MLA Mutchu Mithi whether the Inner Line Permit system will be compromised or incorporated in CAB if the Bill was passed by the Centre, Khandu said that people of Arunachal Pradesh are protected by the provisions of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873. He, however, said that the ILP regime in the state needs to be strengthened further.
The BEFR prohibits all citizens of India from entering Arunachal without an inner line permit.
It is pertinent to mention that the BJP had in its Lok Sabha election manifesto this year had clearly stated that the party was committed to the enactment of the CAB.
Incidentally, Union home minister and BJP national president Amit Shah, during his election rally, had also vowed that the Bill will be brought back in Parliament if the BJP came to power at the Centre.
Union MoS for sports and youth affairs Kiren Rijiju had on March this year said the Bill would never be introduced in the Northeast even if it was implemented in other states of the country.