Shillong: Outcry over the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) has not yet died in the state of Meghalaya. On January 13 this year, two members of progressive people’s movement and part of collectives including Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) and Workers Power of Meghalaya (WPM), Mantre Passah and Rev Kyrsoibor Pyrtuh, filed a petition in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of CAA.
While addressing the media, Passah said that their challenge is based on the arbitrariness of CAA and its attack on the freedom of religion and privacy of the individuals. “We are being represented in the court by a group of lawyers whose knowledge of the constitutional jurisprudence is very well respected in the legal circles. The group includes Gautam Bhatia, Vrinda Bhandari, Malvika Prasad and others,” said Passah.
The petitioners were of the opinion that the Act fails to take into account the realities of the inhabitants of those border regions, many of whom follow indigenous religions and do not identify as being of a part of any of the six selected religious communities as mentioned in the Act, which are — Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian.
Passah further said that it is a blatant design of creating a divide among the various tribal communities, especially those who follow the indigenous traditional belief systems like the Niam Tynrai and Songsarek, which are distinct belief systems and are not part of any mainstream religion.
The petitioners also felt that the government should respect the legitimate concerns of indigenous citizens, who inhabit border states, with respect to the preservation of their language, land, and culture (a principle already recognised in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution).
Passah said, “We the petitioners would also like to highlight that the Act and provisions would impact various persecuted tribal communities in countries such as Bangladesh and Myanmar, including members of the Chakma, Hajong, Rabha, Khasi and Garo communities.”