Kohima: Amid the resentment against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 by various political groups, student communities and local organisations in the state, Nagaland deputy chief minister Yanthungo Patton on Saturday revealed that during a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah, the senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader said that with the extension of Inner Line Permit (ILP) to Dimapur, which brings the whole state under its regime, the state of Nagaland is exempted and that the chapter of CAA for the state is “closed”.
Patton made the remark while participating in the discussion on matters of public importance pertaining to CAB 2016/CAA 2019 and National Register of Citizens (NRC), on the third day of the fifth session of the 13th Nagaland Legislative Assembly. Addressing the august house, Patton said that the religious, social, customary laws and procedures, and resources of the Nagas are constitutionally protected under Article 371A. He added that the Bengal Eastern Frontier regulation (BEFR) 1873 gives further protection as it enables the state government to regulate the entry of non indigenous persons to the state, or even in matters of land acquisition.
He recounted the consultative meeting held on January 31 last year with all political parties civil society organisations and tribal hohos at Chumukedima in Dimapur where the gathering resolved to oppose the CAB 2016, out rightly rejecting its implementation in the state. Later on February 25, the State Assembly unanimously opposed and rejected the Bill, the decision for which was communicated to Parliament.
He said that after the Bill was lapsed in Rajya Sabha, the intention of a fresh Bill was made known following the formation of a new government on May 30. He said that on several occasions, Shah had assured that CAB would not hurt Art 371A and the Inner Line Permit, and that it would not be changed or be scrapped by the government of India (GoI) as they have appealed the exemption of the state from the Bill so that any “misgiving or iota of apprehension regarding the adverse impact of the bill is laid to rest”.
Patton said that during the December 3 meeting with political parties, civil societies, student organisations and tribal organisations, Shah had given the assurance for the exemption adding that “all who attended were happy”.
He added that the state had taken the decision to extend ILP regime to Dimapur on the day the Bill was presented in Rajya Sabha. The Bill later became an Act following the President’s assent. However, Nagaland was exempted as the whole state came under the ILP regime. “For this CAA issue, he [Shah] told us not to come and meet him and discuss because the state chapter for CAA is closed,” Patton said.
Earlier, while the discussion on CAA in the state Assembly continued, state BJP president Temjen Imna Along said that in the meeting held with Shah and various political parties and civil societies, Shah had asked the leader of opposition TR Zeliang to only talk about Nagaland and not about other states. “I believe at that time you also concurred, the NSF president also concurred, and everyone there—the GB Federation also conquered, that if you [Shah] are exempting us and putting a word or those things into master file, then we will agree. And that was how we all took leave after meeting him,” Along said.
He further congratulated Shah, the GoI and all who agitated. Interrupting Along on point of order, Zeliang clarified that they were “never concurred” and had expressed that he will be thankful only if the Bill passed is “good”. He also alleged that both Along and Patton had remained silent in the meeting, to which Patton replied “The Central leaders told us not to speak, not to participate and listen to the opinion of the other party leaders and only then speak up if required”.
He revealed that prior to meeting Shah, all organisations and political parties met at Nagaland House in Delhi and had unanimously decided to seek exemption from CAA. He said that all who attended the meeting “did not utter a word” after the Union minister had assured the exemption of the state. Recounting that all were in gratitude at that moment, he expressed that he did not expect the discussion of CAA on the floor of the state Assembly, since all parties had attended the meeting and had arrived at a unanimous decision. As the blame game continued, the Speaker of the house, called the session on order.