‘Acquiring citizenship different from obtaining permission for access’
Dimapur, January 13: Continuing the war of words between the opposition Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the ruling PDA Government over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, the NPF Legislature Party today hinted that chief minister Neiphiu Rio appears to be confused between “acquiring citizenship of a particular country and obtaining permission for access to a particular region of the country.”
In a communiqué, the NPF Legislature Party asked the chief minister to educate himself on the difference between acquiring citizenship of a particular country and obtaining permission for access to a particular region of the country.
“The Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to provide ‘citizenship’ to illegal migrants whereas the ILP only provides ‘access’ to outsiders for inward travel into Nagaland,” said the NPF.
The NPF Legislature Party was responding to the statement made by the chief minister that ‘Nagas and Nagaland are protected under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 and the Inner Line Permit regulations’ while commenting on the Citizenship Amendment Bill in a programme at Tuensang on January 12.
Terming Rio’s statement as “totally wrong and misleading”, the NPF Legislature Party said the CM had first placed his hope on Article 371A and today it is on Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873. “One can only wonder what next he would rely on when it comes to the people of Nagaland vis-a-vis the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill,” it said.
Educating the chief minister on ILP, the NPF lawmakers explained that the Inner Line Permit (ILP) derived from the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation (BEFR), 1873 also known as Regulation 5 of 1873 is in operation in Nagaland but does not protect the Nagas, their identity and interest in the way Rio makes it appear to be.
“The commercial hub of the State, Dimapur, is not under the ambit of the ILP regulations and undocumented immigrants, especially IBIs, have flooded the District which is known to all the citizens of Nagaland. Not only Dimapur, illegal immigrants have infiltrated even the most interior part of the State while the Chief Minister and his Government continue to rely on unconfirmed hypothesis such as protection under Article 371(A), BEFR 1873, ILP Regulations, etc,” it said.
The NPF Legislature Party also accused the chief minister of trying to shift the blame to the NPF party on the Citizenship Bill, after Rio questioned the NPF’s silence in 2016 when the Bill was introduced.
In the programme on January 12 at Tuensang, the CM has questioned whether the NPF was silent at that time since it was in alliance with the BJP then. “NPF and BJP were alliance partners in 2016 and were running the State Government. During their time, the NPF did not oppose it. Only now when we are doing our best, they are trying to confuse people,” the CM had alleged.
But the NPF was quick to counter by pointing out that in 2016 Rio was the lone Member of Parliament representing Nagaland in the Lok Sabha, and he should have educated the people of the State he represented when draft for the Citizenship Amendment Bull came up for introduction in July 2016.
“States are not directly intimated when a draft is proposed for introduction in the Parliament but as the lone MP representing Nagaland in the Lok Sabha, Neiphiu Rio should have educated the people of the State he represented when draft for the Citizenship Amendment Bill came up for introduction in July 2016,” it said.
Stating that when the present Lok Sabha MP, Tokheho Yepthomi of the NDPP Party supported the passing of the Bill in the Lok Sabha on 8th January, 2019, the NPF said the resolution of the State Cabinet calling upon the Centre to review the Bill “is a humiliation and insult to the intelligence of the Nagas.”
“What is to be noted is the fact that the draft Bill of the Citizenship Amendment Bill was introduced in July, 2016 when Neiphiu Rio was the lone MP representing Nagaland in the Lok Sabha and passed when Tokheho Yepthomi of the NDPP Party represented the State. Ironically, today Neiphiu Rio is trying to shift the blame to the NPF Party. Such is the nature of Neiphiu Rio,” it alleged.
The NPF legislators also reminded that till date, no reply has been given to the Leader of Opposition, TR Zeliang who had sought clarification from the Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio through letter dated 16th July, 2018. Furthermore, it said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was listed by the Assembly Secretariat for discussion on the floor of the House as requested by NPF MLAs which however was denied time by the Speaker, Vikho-o-Yoshü.
Pol party meet on Bill
On the opinion of the chief minister that the Bill has not yet been passed in the Rajya Sabha and that there is still time to review the Bill, the NPF said the truth is that the NDA do not command a sufficient majority to pass the same in the Upper House.
“The State Cabinet decision of both 5th June 2018 and 7th Jan. 2019 were taken out of compulsion to gratify the NDA Government at the cost of the Naga people,” it alleged.
On the resolution of the State Cabinet to discuss the matter with all political parties in the State, the NPF Legislature Party declare that it will not be a party to such unintelligent proposition at any cost. (Page News Service)