Kohima, February 9: Amid hue and cry over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) by opposition parties and some organizations, the BJP led NDA Government has not disclosed the number of people to be granted citizenship, but according to one source these would be around 30 lakhs.
A BJP source said there will be around 30 lakhs people, who will be naturalized as citizens of India, and out of which around 70,000 are Christians. But party source said the Government will grant citizenship to only those who have been in the country before December 31, 2014 and that no new people will be entertained.
Non-inclusion of Muslims in the CAA has triggered countrywide protests by opposition parties and some groups. But for the Northeast, the protest is different as they have been asking the Union Government to exempt the region from the CAA.
BJP said religiously persecuted people from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh will be granted citizenship but not Muslims as they are majority in those countries.
Earlier according to sources, the Intelligence Bureau had estimated around 40,000 people to be granted citizenship.
Opposition parties have accused BJP of having hidden agenda as Muslims are excluded from the Act.
In Nagaland also, opposition parties like the Congress and NPF along with Naga Students’ Federation (NSF) have been protesting against CAA, asking the State Government not to support the CAA. NPF is organising a sit-in protest on February 11.
Opposition parties and students are apprehensive that the State will be swarmed by outsiders if the CAA is implemented. They also argue that Article 371A and the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR) cannot protect the State from CAA and criticize the State Government’s stand. But the Government remains adamant that the State is protected under article 371A and Inner Line Permit.
The BJP has defended the CAA and urged people not to panic or carried away by negative propaganda unleashing by the opposition parties. State BJP president Temjen Imna Along and party’s Deputy Chief Minister, Y Patton have defended the CAA and assured the people that the Act will not affect the State. They maintained that CAA will not infringe into Article 371A and the ILP regime.
Patton said Nagaland enjoys a special status under Article 371A of the Constitution of India and that CAA will not hurt the Article which protects Naga people. He, however, urged the Centre to have further wider discussions with the northeastern states to protect their rights. He was replying to the discussion on CAA in the Assembly on Saturday.
He said as appealed by the opposition NPF and civil society organisations the Union Government has exempted Nagaland from the CAA, adding Union Home Minister, Amit Shah has told the Nagaland Government that there will be no further discussion on CAA. Patton said people of the State should be grateful to the Government of India for exempting Nagaland from CAA.
Minister for Higher & Technical Education and Tribal Affairs, Temjen Imna Along also asked people to thank the Central Government for granting citizenship to persecuted Christians. He alleged that the CAA is being politicized by the Congress for political gain, and creating fear psychosis in the society and asked the opposition NPF and Congress not to mislead the people as Nagaland is exempted from the CAA. He said CAA will not harm Nagas’ political rights, culture and land rights as they are excluded from the Act. He also called upon the treasury bench and opposition parties to come together and find a solution to safeguard the Naga people.
The Minister, who is also State BJP president, thanked the opposition bench for raising the issue as people should be made known the real intention of the CAA. “Let us not politicize CAA in Nagaland,” he appealed
“It is the Naga people they have to protect themselves,” he said and expressed optimism that CAA would not affect the demography of the State as the Centre has made commitment to protect the indigenous people of the region. He said negative propaganda has created fear psychosis and apprehension that the region would be overwhelmed by the infiltrators. He thanked Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and home minister; Amit Shah for granting citizenship to persecuted Christians.
Interestingly on Saturday, the Leader of the House and Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio who is from the NDPP did not reply to the discussion on CAA moved by the NPF and his Deputy CM who is from the BJP was given the chance to reply on behalf of the Government. (Page News Service)