Citizenship Bill issue raised in UNHRC

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GUWAHATI, JUNE 27: The burning issues of large-scale illegal migration, land rights, Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, disappearance of indigenous youths due to security operations, etc., which have been posing serious threats to the existence of the indigenous peoples of the Northeastern region, have now reached the floor of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC). A delegation from the Khilanjia Mancha, Assam and other organisations of the Northeastern region raised the issues before the 38th session of the UNHRC yesterday.
Speaking on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the State, Bonnya Boruah, daughter of ULFA leader Golap Boruah alias Anup Chetia, said that the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act violates the promise of the Government of India, as laid down in the 1985 Assam Accord for providing constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguard to the indigenous peoples of Assam with the aim at protecting, preserving and promoting their cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage.
It is also unconstitutional to undermine the ongoing process for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) by granting Indian citizenship to a large number of people who would otherwise be ineligible, she said.
She also raised the issue of large-scale illegal migration from the neighbouring countries to the northeastern region before the UN forum. “Migration has always been the reality for Assam, Tripura and other states of this region of India. This is a severe burning issue that affects all indigenous peoples of this region. This large-scale migration has significantly changed the demographic scenario in Assam and became the principal cause for the social, economic and political instability in Assam,” she said, adding, large-scale migration of such people has posed a great threat to the identity of the Assamese people.
Under this situation, the indigenous peoples of Northeast India are now seeking protective measures to save their land and political rights for safeguarding their own identity, she said.
Presenting the apprehensions of the indigenous peoples of Assam on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill before the UN forum, Bonnya’s mother Manika Borgohain Boruah said the indigenous peoples of Northeast India have already been reduced to minorities by the continuous influx of illegal migrants, who have been encroaching upon Government lands, reserve forests and sanctuaries, besides private property of various indigenous communities.
If the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is passed, it will pose a serious threat to the existence of the indigenous peoples of Assam, she said.
Addressing the UN forum members, Kabashi Adrien of Manipur said that about 90% of the natives of Assam do not possess permanent (myadi) land pattas (documents). In the Nagaon district of Assam, 70% of the land is owned by non-natives. In 8 other districts of Assam, the natives have already been reduced to a minority. If the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act is passed, the plight of the indigenous peoples of Assam will be more deplorable, she asserted.
Speaking at the meeting of the UN forum, Renubala of Manipur raised the issue of forced disappearance and extrajudicial killing in Manipur and Assam. She said till 2012 alone, there were 1,528 cases of extrajudicial killing in Manipur and only 17 of these cases were investigated till March this year. She also pointed to the fact that the Assam Government too failed to ascertain the whereabouts of those Assamese ‘activists’ who went missing since the military operation in Bhutan in 2003.
(Courtesy: AT)