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PDA Govt’s stand on Citizenship Bill dangerous: Village Chiefs


Says will not remain silent to any anti-Naga Bill

Dimapur, January 21: The Nagaland GBs Federation (Village chieftain) has strongly hit out at the PDA Government in Nagaland for its wavering stance on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, terming the Government as tantamount to being in support of whatever the Centre decides at the expense of the welfare of the Nagas.
“We apprehend the impending dangers that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 poses in the light of this becoming an act,” it said in a statement.
The NGBF said the State Cabinet’s decision to appeal for a review and re-examination of the Bill is unfortunate and lacks the will and conviction to save the State from being overrun by illegal immigrants. It asked what is hindering the Government of Nagaland to oppose the Bill when other Northeastern States of India, run by BJP allies and the BJP MLAs themselves, are calling for total scrapping of the Bill.
“This Bill should be opposed tooth and nail so that the coming generations will not curse us for the things we could have done when we had the opportunity,” it stated.
The village chiefs also termed the contention of the State Government that since we have Article 371(A) to protect us, as “no Act of parliament shall apply to the state of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides”, is a feeble argument and a dangerous one in it.
“How assuredly can the Government state that Article 371(A) will absolutely protect the Nagas in the event of CAB 2016 becoming an Act,” it asked.
The NGBF reminded that Article 371(A) states “Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, (a) no Act of Parliament in respect of – (i) religious or social practices of the Nagas,  (ii) Naga customary law and procedure, (iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary law, (iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources, shall apply to the State of Nagaland unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland by a resolution so decides.”
It pointed out that there is no mention of citizenship in the Article and the hope of taking 371(A) as ammunition to oppose the Bill when it becomes an act will not pass legal scrutiny in time.
Citing the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873 (BEFRA) as being ‘one of the pillars to safeguard the Naga Citizenship through the exercise of the ILP’ is once again a misrepresentation of the Act as there is no relation between the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and the Inner Line Permit, it said, adding there is a marked difference between the two, which is self explanatory and have no correlation whatsoever.
Whereas the ILP or for that matter the Restricted Area Permit (RAP) is for temporary movement within the State, the CAB 2016 will grant legal citizenship which will have a disastrous implications. If Nagaland is the only State where no illegal immigrants could enter as a result of the restrictions imposed by ILP, it could have been a different story from any other States in the country however it is not the case and despite the BEFRA 1873, our State has become a safe haven for illegal immigrants, it said.
“Should the Nagaland State Government remain weak and meekly watch the hazardous events unfold, it would not be long before the illegal immigrants with legal Indian Citizenship overrun the State of Nagaland in every field thus turning Nagaland into a haven for illegal activities. When we should be working towards an efficient mechanism to deport and reduce the inflow of illegal immigrants, our weak stand is but a welcoming gesture to those who are eagerly waiting to make an entry into our State.”
Stating that the federation as a respectable organization and the guardian of the traditional and customary laws and practices will not remain a mute spectator to any anti-Naga activities (Bill) being carried out but will rise up to the occasion as we will not tolerate and watch Nagaland being buried due to whatever reasons behind, the NGBF said it is time for the Government to wake up and not just give “support in solidarity to the voice of North-Eastern brethrens” but find a way to protect itself from this controversial bill before it is too late.
The village chiefs, however, welcomed the State Cabinet’s decision to call a consultative meet of all sections, including tribals hohos, civil society groups, NGOs, political parties, prominent citizens and all stakeholders to ascertain the views, opinions and suggestions on the issue.
Extending support to the Joint Committee on Prevention of Illegal Immigrants (JCPI) and endorsing their views and arguments on the issue, the NGBF said any movement which is for the benefit and welfare of the Nagas will always have its full support and blessings. (Page News Service)