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Citizenship law rocks Nagaland Assembly

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Oppn demands passing of anti-CAA resolution; Govt says no

Kohima, February 8: A heated debate between the ruling Peoples’ Democratic Alliance (PDA) and opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) on Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019 rocked Nagaland Assembly on Saturday.
Opposition NPF raised concern on the impact of implementation of CAA 2019 while also appealing the House to pass an Assembly Resolution against the amended citizenship law.
Opposition leader TR Zeliang along with MLAs Chotisuh Sazo and Dr Chumben Murry initiating the adjournment motion against CAA during the discussion on matter of urgent public importance in the Assembly, were of the opinion the Inner Line Permit under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 and Article 371 (A) which gives special provisions to the Nagas does not protect the indigenous people of the State from the possible influx of illegal immigrants.
Zeliang said when the neighbouring state Assam is not exempted from the purview of CAA, Nagaland though exempted is not protected.
“Let us study the case and see if truly the central government plans to give citizenship to the persecuted minorities of neighboring countries. If so, why is it only the three countries, namely Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan? Why not people from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and the Buddhists from Tibet? Does this Act truly stand for what it says it stands for or is it only an Act to garner political vote banks taking into consideration the feelings of the majority in the country,” he asked.
In the context of Nagaland, Zeliang said our State is most vulnerable to the threat of migrants and illegal immigrants taking over the State’s economy as the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland has been dependent on them for decades now.
Stating that Nagaland’s borders are porous, and hordes of illegal and legal immigrants from the neighboring States will find their way into the State legally or illegally, he asked “Who can stop the people who are granted citizenship from the State of Assam by the powers vested in the CAA from making their way into our State?”
The opposition MLAs also requested the House to pass an anti-CAA resolution demanding its immediate withdrawal.
However on behalf of the Government, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton, Minister Temjen Imna Along and Advisor K T Sukhalu reiterated that Nagas are fully protected by Article 371 (A) of the Constitution and also the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 or the Inner Line Permit.
They were also of the view that as assured by the Union Home Minister Amit Shah on December 3 last year, Nagaland along with those states having ILP and Sixth Schedule States are exempted from the Act and therefore the State should appreciate the move of the Centre.
With this, they were of the view that there is no need of any further discussion or passing a resolution in the Assembly.
Participating in the discussion, Minister Along thanked the NPF for bring the issue to the Assembly again and again saying that it will make the people understand how Nagas are protected and what should be done to unite our people together besides planning policies pertaining to the Naga people without going to propagandas.
He said that “it is us the Naga people that has to protect ourselves… the CAA that has already been passed in both the Houses of the Parliament, in no way would affect the demography or situation of the people of Nagaland in general, if we ourselves do not allow certain negligence to happen”.
Expressing that many Acts have been passed in the past and many more will be passed and amended through time, he said if we always keep on shouting and scare the people saying we are going through terrible situation, is not going to do any good to us.
“We are living in the Indian Nation and will continue to live until God and the world may change for something in the future,” he said.
Replying to the discussion, Deputy Chief Minister Y Patton said “our state has enjoyed a very special status among all the states of the country. Our statehood came with Article 371(A) of the Constitution and this Article of the Constitution provides protection to the religious, social and customary law and procedures of the Nagas.
He reiterated that right from the time when such amendments were being proposed in the Citizenship Act of 1955 by the earlier CAB 2016, the State Government looked into the proposed amendment provisions, its adverse fallout, if any, on the State in several Cabinet meetings.
“We were clear that the provisions of the proposed bill would not be applicable in the State,” he said, adding that the Government had firmly conveyed to GoI the special protection enjoyed by the State, and the clear position of the State Government that CAA would not be applicable in Nagaland.
He also highlighted the discussions with tribal bodies in January and deliberations of the Assembly in February last year, 68th NEC Plenary Session meeting in September 2019 at Guwahati etc.
He also asserted that ILP implementation in Dimapur is being done in a structured and systematic manner. Stating that the Government has after considering all the aspects devised the guidelines and procedures for issuing ILPs to those who are already settled in Dimapur, the Deputy CM assured that “no Indian citizen settled in Dimapur will be put to any harassment”.
“Our entire state got covered under ILP and it is completely exempted from the applicability and purview of CAA 2019,” Patton added. (Page News Service)

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