Not being a lawyer, my understanding of the Bill is limited and my opinion may contain legal errors. Thanks to Advocate Takamasa, Ex-MLA who has timely enlightened us on the legal implications of Citizenship(Amendment Bill) of 2016(CAB) vis-a-vis Art 371(A and BEFR 1983 which are now under public scrutiny. Even otherwise by common sense, one understands that a weak State like Nagaland can become a victim of the Bill. The amendment to Citizenship Act of 1955 by means of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is to bring the Hindus, the Jains, the Sikhs, the Buddhists and the Christians from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh and grant them citizenship of India. The BJP reportedly managed to bulldoze the Parliamentary Committee on the Bill’s approval, the Union Cabinet approved it and now the Lok Sabha has approved the same on 8th January, 2019. The 11 years duration provided in the Act of 1955 was reduced to just 6 years of stay by any of those seeking for enrolment as Indian citizen. Secondly and the namesake law is even when one fails to prove his/her antecedent with valid document will be admissible. The controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 is still remaining as a Bill and yet to become an Act for want of it being passed by Raja Sabha. The moment the Bill is approved by Raja Sabha and receives the assent of the President of India, it becomes an Act under the Constitution of India. At the very moment, for instance, Manipur in particular is demanding that it should be exempted from the enforcement of the law. In other words, those of the foreigners granted Indian citizenship under the new law should not be allowed to become citizens of the State of Manipur. However, I doubt whether any State under the Union of India can be exempted from such law when enacted. Creating precedence can become the Pandora’s box.
The Citizenship(Amendment) Bill of 2016 excludes Muslims. And though those of the other communities as Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists and Christians are included, the Bill intends to grant citizenship to maximum Hindus seeking for registration. In the name of compassion on fellow Hindus facing religious persecution in the Muslim countries as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh the BJP, as per its agenda, intends to transform India into theocratic country by bringing Hindus in millions.
How far Nagaland State is insulated by Art 371(A) and BEFR 1873 (ILP) under the threat of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 was well covered by Advocate Takama’s article. Whereas, the PDA Govt. by its Cabinet decision on 5th June, 2018 declared that is not against the Bill but it will object when any provision in the Act is found detrimental to the interest of the State of Nagaland. This decision of PDA Govt. was aimed at pleasing both the BJP Govt. in Delhi and the Nagas of Nagaland. This decision was born out of sheer timidity, sycophancy and of hidden agenda. The PDA has no gut to displease its mentor BJP by deciding to oppose the Bill as was done by counterparts as Mizoram, Meghalaya and Manipur. The PDA thus used ambiguity as its cornerstone. Such posture sans locus standi. The logic of the decision is funny too. Once the Bill in question is enacted, it will remain for durable period of time, no matter how much is the dislike of Nagaland State may be. After the Bill is enacted, what power the State of Nagaland will have to force the Union Govt. to rectify any of its provisions or refuse to accept it in solitude.
Whereas, as any Govt. is, PDA is legally guided by Advocate General on all constitutional and legal matters. One therefore needs not doubt that as though PDA is confused, ignorant or failed to discern the demerits contained in the CAB 2016. The PDA knows that the Art 371(A) has got nothing to do to resist the influx of illegal immigrants into Nagaland, and that the BEFR 1873 (ILP) is not the legal weapon to determine who is entitled to be registered as Indian citizen and who deserves not. Yet, in the name of ambiguity and foolishness, PDA is lobbying hard for the smooth passage of the Bill. The NDPP is working relentlessly harder for the Bill more than the BJP Govt. in Manipur or BJP alliance Govt. in Meghalaya. The philosophy of PDA in using Nagaland to please others, the non-indigenous citizens in Nagaland, dates back to the formation of NPF in 2003 taking the Congress booklet of the Bedrock of Naga Society as its launching pad, and the agenda remains. The decision of PDA is ruthless, myopic and too selfish. In other words, is PDA contemplating to make Nagaland the sacrificial lamb for its own gain? Those leaders are to be held solely responsible for the possible consequences of the Bill.
Here lies the dangers. The moment the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of 2016 is passed by both Houses of Parliament, lakhs of non-Indian Hindus in particular will be registered as Indian citizens in hurry. According to anti-Bill activist in Assam, not less than 20 lakh Bangladeshi Hindus are waiting for registration. Beside, we had learnt already what size of the population was left out in the enforcement of NRC in Assam. More than 40 lakh people in Assam were left unregistered, and this bulk will be the additional burden. And possibly, the Hindus from those three countries will steadily migrate to India in due course of time availing the given privilege. I believe that is the intention of BJP.
Whereas, when Assam is filled with unwanted huge chunk of population, ultimately the local situation over there will flush several lakhs of people out. Whereas, PDA is sarcastically talking about our protective laws as Art 371(A) and BEFR 1873 by which Nagaland will remain safe from the adverse impact of the Bill. Whereas, natural calamities as floods, landslides, cyclones or wildfires have no respect for manmade laws. Similarly, the influx of those people registered under CAB 2016 who are flushed out from other States or they themselves decide to come to Nagaland will have no regard for our existing laws.
Secondly, introspect on the efficiency, commitment and determination of the administration of the Govt. of Nagaland relating to implementation of our protective laws. No matter how good and plenty may be our laws, the law enforcers have the tendencies and become so obsessed to abuse those for personal gains. We know how Indigenous Certificates and ILP are misused as lucrative business by administrators. We know as and when the Bill is enacted, and when the influx of immigrants into Nagaland becomes imminent, those of the myopic and selfish people of all hue will form syndicate as usual to make it a big industry at the cost of the indigenous people of the State.
Thirdly, to allow the influx of outsiders to live in Nagaland is as simple as inhaling oxygen by any healthy person. Look at the magnitude of lakhs of doubtful people already living in Nagaland particularly in urban areas. Look at how porous are our borders with neighbour States. In any given situation, I find it difficult to trust the administration to honestly and efficiently handle the influx problem. And so, to let others, the undeserved people, to come in is easy. Yet, the bigger concern is, after realization of the adverse impact of these people on our indigenous rights, when we wake up late to deport them will become the contentious issue. To take decisive measure for deportation will have immense repercussion particularly in Assam. Assam being the gateway for Nagaland, we cannot afford to have strained relationship with this neighbour. Whereas, those migrants will have their base in Assam in particular, and any spark of legal or illegal action against people from Assam who have illegally landed in our State will have boomerang from Assam against the people of Nagaland as experienced in the past.
Although Nagaland has just one Raja Sabha MP due to which our State can hardly play vital role in floor games when the Bill is tabled in Parliament. Yet, when the issue in debate is so crucial relating to our survival in the long run, our cohesion with other States in NE is very imperative. With, the arrogance, the selfishness and the myopia of PDA, the NE strength against the Bill is weakened. Nagaland will therefore be responsible for the Bill when enacted and for its consequences in NE. If PDA Govt. stands for Nagaland, do not mortgage it for your comfort zone. Tie up with those NE States which are opposing the Bill for the reason that those States are wiser.
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