Kohima, March 4: “Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 is not acceptable and will fight tooth and nail to oppose it in whichever way it comes,” concluded a panel discussion on the Bill.
The panel discussion was organized by Naga Scholars’ Association (NSA), Kohima unit at Kohima College Kohima on Monday.
Former Minister of Nagaland, Merentoshi R Jamir, Naga Hoho president P Chuba Ozukum, former NSF president and current spokesperson of Naga Peoples’ Front Achumbemo Kikon and Assistant Prof of St Joseph College Jakhama, Dr Kelühol Tase were the panelists.
The BJP government having the majority in the Lok Sabha has passed CAB 2016 despite the rigorous appeals and agitations by the people of the Northeast but was unsuccessful in getting it through in the Upper House, which is likely to lapse with the announcement of the general elections, said Kikon.
Nonetheless, he expressed fear that BJP government, which is hell bent to implement the CAB would try to come up with an ordinance just before the elections as it is trying to increase its vote bank.
Maintaining that Assam and Tripura are already facing the consequences as illegal immigrants have over-flooded the indigenous inhabitants, he said passage of the Bill would create huge problems for the people of Nagaland as the Centre is contemplating to dump the illegal immigrants into the vast empty lands of Northeast.
“India is already over populated and what is the need of increasing the population,” he questioned while stating that “the intention of the Government of India and the spirit of Bill to grant citizenship on religious sentiments is wrong”.
Kikon also reiterated his party’s stand to oppose the Bill till the end.
Apex Naga tribal body leader, Chuba Ozukum said exclaimed that BJP is so serious to amend the Citizenship Bill of 1955 in order to dominate the Northeast with religious sentiments.
“CAB has become a threat for Nagas and the people of Northeast in general because once it becomes a law, we won’t be able to save ourselves,” he said.
Ozukum went on to state that “we may say Article 371(A) of the Constitution of India and Inner Line Permit (ILP) protects us but the scope of the Article and ILP cannot be interrelated with CAB 2016”.
Stating that the view that Nagaland government’s claim that Article 371(A) and ILP protects the Naga people from CAB is “wrong”, Ozukum said the Central government has been interpreting the provisions of Article 371(A) at their own convenience.
“CAB 2016 should be scrapped”, the Hoho president added.
Panelist Merentoshi Jamir, though a spokesperson of ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), while sharing his individual thoughts said Citizenship Act is not new but the objection of CAB is because of particularization of religion, countries and granting of citizenship without valid documents”.
Talking on similar lines with the government’s stand that Article 371(A) of the Constitution protects the Nagas, he said, “As stakeholders of the said Article we have to uphold that is does protect us because saying it does not protect us may dilute its provisions”.
On fears of the people that accepting CAB poses dangers of massive influx of illegal immigrants into the State, Jamir expressed that “whether CAB is imposed or not, the government and all the citizens of the State should join hands in taking up the responsibility to strengthen the enforcement of ILP”.
He also suggested that issuance of residential proof certificates without valid documents to illegal immigrants and adoption policy of non-local by Nagas should be discouraged.
He also opined that rights of Naga women getting married to non-Nagas should not be transferable to her husband and children.
Panelist Assistant Prof. Dr Tase said that the past four amendments, before 2016, of the Citizenship Bill had been granting of citizenship through birth and parental decedents but the CAB is to allow illegal immigrants to be citizens of the country, which cannot be acceptable.
Making her closing remarks as the moderator of the discussion, Professor of English Department, Nagaland University Prof Rosemary Dzüvichü said that instead of CAB the government needs to have proper refugee law because a law based only on religious line is not acceptable because India is a secular country.
Moreover, she said, there is a huge controversy over granting of Citizenship as Assam government has termed thousands of its citizens as illegal through National Register of Citizens while Centre has pursuing CAB 2016 to grant citizenship to illegal immigrants.
She, therefore, was of the view that Nagas and the people of North East should take up the common fight against CAB.
NSA president Dr Zavise Rame delivered the welcome address while general secretary Dr Daili Kholia tendered the vote of thanks during the programme which commenced with prayer by Senior Pastor of Chakhesang Baptist Church Kohima Rev Dr Kevekhalo Lasuh. (Page News Service)