Naga People’s Front central headquarters in Kohima

Kohima: The main opposition party in Nagaland — Naga Peoples’ Front (NPF) — has lauded the chief ministers of Mizoram and Meghalaya for taking a right stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) right from the starting day.

Releasing a statement from its central headquarters at Kohima, the NPF expressed that the people-centric outlook of the chief minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma and Mizoram chief minister, Zoramthanga, is very much unlike the state’s chief minister Neiphiu Rio’s myopic belief of taking shelter under Article 371(A) and Inner Line Permit (ILP).

The opposition party’s statement further revealed that the “naive belief” of the chief minister that Nagaland is protected under such provisions has been proved wrong with the Union home minister declaring that a special clause would be incorporated in the bill to protect the Northeastern states, including Nagaland.

“Without such a special clause, no state is protected under any provisions from the Bill in its present form,” the statement added.

Adding to it, the opposition party in its statement also expressed that the party is grateful to Union home minister Amit Shah who understood the issue and had recently declared in Aizawl that a special clause would be incorporated in the CAB in order to protect the interest of Northeastern state, particularly Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh.

The opposition party in its statement also pointed out that that it was most unfortunate on the part of the state chief minister’s ignorance of the bill and its implication and further abstaining from attending the parliament session along with a couple of MPs when the said Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha last year.

The statement goes on to question “If the Bill did not lapse in the Rajya Sabha, what would have been the position of Nagaland today? Will chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, and Lok Sabha MP, Tokheho Yepthomi, be in a position to protect the Nagas from such a dangerous Act today?”

The opposition in its statement also alleged that in the cabinet meetings held on June 5, 2018 and January 7, 2019, the ruling government “never opposed the bill” and later, on January 28, 2019, the chief minister and his Cabinet took a U-turn and decided to oppose the Bill which however was under the assumption that the State was protected under Article 371(A) and Inner Line Permit (ILP). During the assembly session in February 2019, legislators of the Naga Peoples’ Front walked-out in protest against the infamous resolution on CAB which had clubbed the two constitutional provisions -Article 371(A) and ILP/Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873- with the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

It further stated that NPF was “aware from the beginning that unless a notable clause is incorporated in the controversial Bill, no State in any part of NE India is protected under any provision including Article 371(A) and Inner Line Permit (ILP)”.

“We welcome the positive announcement aimed towards safeguarding the rights and identity of the indigenous people in NE India,” it stated.

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