Kohima: The Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) on Tuesday conducted a peaceful sit-in protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) that was passed in Lok Sabha, showing their solidarity to the other Northeast states. Due to the ongoing Hornbill Festival, normal lives continued across the state despite the 11-hour bandh called by North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) to protest against the Bill.
Speaking at the protest, which was attended mostly by students, NSF president Ninoto Awomi said that during the December 3 meeting held with Union home minister Amit Shah, it was apprised that “Nagaland will be exempt from the purview of CAB” as it was already with Inner Line Permit (ILP) provisions.
“Although Nagaland state has ILP provision, with the given poor mechanism we have in place, Nagaland is not being able to control influx of illegal immigrants even today,” he added.
Saying that the entire Northeast region is like “one block”, Awomi added that if CAB is imposed in a “small pocket” in the region, it is like “opening another porous border and Nagaland state will not be safe, the entire Northeast region will be affected with influx of illegal immigrants”.
“This CAB is anti-minority, this CAB is anti-indigenous people,” said Awomi. He then appealed the Union government to “respect the sentiments and aspirations of the minority Northeastern region and protect its citizens instead of sheltering illegal migrants”.
He also appealed to all the educated youths and right thinking citizens of the state to “come forward and support our fight against CAB which threatens the very existence of indigenous people”.
E Krelo, tribunal member of NSF, said that time and again the government of India “neglected” the plea of the Northeast people in regard to CAB. Questioning GoI’s concern for non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, he said: “What about our people who are living in Myanmar?”
Alleging that the real motive behind passing of the Bill was to collect “vote bank”, he appealed the students to be conscious of the happenings, expressing fear that although it may not affect the state immediately, it is dangerous for the future.
Former NSF president NSN Lotha boldly said that the Bill is against Fundamental Right of Equality as it “cast out certain religion”. He also expressed concern over the unrecorded data of refugees entering the land. Lotha further said that Nagaland is the most threatened state after Assam and appealed the people to be united.
Although Nagaland has been exempt from the Bill, there have been mixed reactions from the people. Taking to twitter, deputy chief minister Y Patton wrote: “I am delighted that Lok Sabha has passed the #CitizenshipAmendmentBill and confident that Rajya Sabha will pass the bill too. I applaud PM Shri @narendramodi ji, HM Shri @AmitShah hi and the #NDA Government for necessary provisions in #CABBill to protect the NE states from any fallout”.
However, civil societies have been resenting against the Bill despite the state being exempt from the purview of the CAB.