ITANAGAR, July 9: If the Centre brings the Citizenship Amendment Bill once again, Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu Tuesday said he, along with his counterparts in the Northeastern states, will protest jointly.
Khandu, who heads a BJP government, informed the assembly that earlier also he had urged the Centre to exempt the tribal state from the purview of the Bill.
The contentious Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.
Replying to a question by Congress MLA Ninong Ering on the steps taken to protect the interest of the indigenous people if the Bill is imposed, Khandu said the state would appeal to the Centre not to impose the bill as it would have a strong ramification.
“The Lok Sabha passed the bill on January 8 but it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha. I along with the Manipur chief minister had gone to Delhi and apprised the then home minister Rajnath Singh of the probable impact of the bill. (We told him that) it might dilute the rights of the indigenous people of the North East,” Khandu said.
A citizenship bill would be brought to give Indian citizenship to Hindus coming from neighbouring nations, Union home minister Amit Shah informed the Rajya Sabha on July 1.
“If the Centre wants to bring the Bill again, we will oppose it jointly by taking into confidence all the chief ministers of the region,” he said.
A large-scale protest had broken out in the northeastern states earlier this year as the indigenous people of the region were apprehending that if the bill was enacted, it would endanger their identity and livelihood.
Khandu said the state government had made its stand clear to the Centre on the citizenship bill citing the violence in the state capital during February over the Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) issue.
The state government had proposed grant of PRC to six communities that are not natives of Arunachal Pradesh but are living there for decades.
It led to violent protests and two persons were killed in Itanagar in February and Khandu had declared: “Never again will we take up the issue of PRC. The issue is closed.”
Responding to another question of NPP member Mutchu Mithi, Khandu made it clear that there would be no dilution in the inner line permit system in the state.
“Arunachal is protected by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873 and Chin Hill Regulations Act, 1896. These are enough to protect the rights of the tribal people,” the chief minister said. (PTI)