‘Wrong to say Art 371A & ILP can protect us from CAB’
Dimapur, January 29: Former Chief Minister of Nagaland, Dr SC Jamir on Monday came out strongly against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 while also stating that Article 371A and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) cannot protect Nagaland and its people from the Bill.
Speaking exclusively to Nagaland Page, Dr Jamir, who is also the former Governor of Maharashtra, Goa & Odisha, said the PDA Government in Nagaland should also come out with a clear stand on the controversial CAB. (The interview was taken before the State Cabinet’s decision to oppose and reject the CAB).
“I think we should oppose it tooth and nail so that we do not allow outside forces/elements to overwhelm the entire State. And my personal view is that Nagaland should come out with clear stand on this very important crucial issue that will jeopardize the future of the people of the State,” he said.
Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and the State Cabinet have claimed that the CAB will not be applicable to Nagaland as the State is protected under Article 371A and the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 (ILP). Even the Governor of Nagaland in his customary Republic Day address on January 26 said the CAB is not applicable to Nagaland.
“We are of the unequivocal view that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is not applicable to Nagaland as we stand protected under the provisions of Article 317(A) of the Constitution of India and the Inner Line Permit mechanism as per Bengal Frontier Regulation, 1873 which was reaffirmed as Clause 16 of the 16-Point Agreement,” the State Governor had said.
But the lone surviving signatory of the 16- Point Agreement of 1960, Dr SC Jamir, said Article 317A and Citizenship Bill are quite different.
“I think Government of Nagaland has declared that this (Art 371A) can prevent CAB but I don’t think so. Article 371A has specific subjects – but the Citizenship Bill is quite different,” he stated.
Article 371 (A) (1) begins with a “non-obstante” provision to the effect ‘notwithstanding anything in this Constitution” and further stipulates that no Act of Parliament in respect of: i) religious or social practices of the Nagas, (ii) Naga customary law and procedure, (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, (iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.
“These are very specific… And therefore it will be wrong on the part of the Government to say that Article 371 (A) safeguards our interest vis-à-vis Amendment to the Citizenship Act,” he stated.
Jamir reminded that he had been telling from the very beginning that if Nagaland has to preserve its identity the Government has to be very careful regarding immigrants from Bangladesh. He recalled that during Partition 9 lakhs refugees were supposed to be placed in Dimapur but NNC elders said we cannot accept any refugees because this will swarm up our population. “So they retreated from Dimapur. And that has saved Nagaland because Nagaland population that time was hardly 3 lakhs.”
“Tripura lost to immigrants from Bangladesh. We might have faced the same fate in Naga Hills also. But our leaders of yester ears, they were foresighted and far-sighted as a result of which today we are remaining as Naga people,” he said.
Jamir also recalled that while drafting the 16 Point Memorandum, “we had taken care that outsiders should not be allowed to settle here. And therefore we have mentioned that the Inner Line Regulation should remain.” But of course, it does not necessarily give power to Nagaland on Citizenship issue, he added.
Reiterating that Inner Line Permit cannot prevent or supersede Citizenship Amendment Act, the former Chief Minister said ILP is only to prevent foreigners to enter into the land either for business or otherwise. But it is not for settlement.
According to Jamir, the objective was that we should not allow outsiders to just enter Nagaland for business or otherwise, for they may exploit us. So ILP was a preventive measure, he said.
“Thirdly we saw that unless we preserve our land and resources, then capitalists may exploit us in matters of minerals and other commercial activities. That is the reason why we mentioned in Article 371 (A) about land and its resources.”
Jamir summed up his observation on the PDA Government’s stand on the CAB thus: “I don’t know who have advised them (PDA Government) that we are free from this Citizenship Bill. I don’t think neither the ILP nor 371(A) will be able to prevent the amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Home Minister has made it clear that those people coming from Bangladeesh, Afghanistan, etc will be placed everywhere in the country.”
On the opposition from other NE State Governments to the Bill and the protest across the NE states, he said people of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Manipur know what the situation will be as a consequence of the Bill becoming an Act. “If outsiders are majority, then we shall be minority in our own land, so people are conscious about that. But Nagaland appears not to be conscious of that,” he stated.
Jamir reminded that even the BJP Chief Minister of Manipur has opposed the Bill and sought exemption of Manipur from the Bill. But here in Nagaland, our leaders don’t think of the people, they only think of their position, he rued.
On the statement made by the Home Ministry that citizenship won’t be given without the State Government’s nod, Jamir said, “I don’t know. If all the states refuses then what? No state will be willing to invite them (foreigners). Where are we going to send them? There is no logic in what they (MHA) are saying.”
(Page News Service)