New Delhi: Assam Congress leaders have decided not to attend the meeting called by Home Minister Amit Shah on Friday to discuss the proposed amendment in the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).
The Home Minister has called a consultative meeting of the civil society groups and political parties to discuss the proposed citizenship amendment bill.
The Congress MP’s from the Northeast and the Naga People’s Front (NPF) protested in Parliament against the CAB.
The meeting is likely to be attended by all the political parties, ethnic groups of the Northeastern states and civil society groups.
The CAB intends to make it easier for the non-Muslim immigrants from India’s three Muslim-majority neighbours — Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to become citizens of India. Though the Bill does not spell it out clearly, but the fact is that it entitles the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians facing religious persecution in the three countries to seek Indian citizenship, and highlights the exclusion of Muslims.
This amendment is to The Citizenship Act, 1955 which requires the applicant to have resided in India for 11 of the previous 14 years. The amendment seeks to relax this requirement of 11 years to 6 years for the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the three nations.
It is not only the opposition parties which are opposing the CAB, but many Northeastern states fear that the Bangladeshi immigrants will be settled in their areas, which they think are a threat to their ethnic identity.
In the run up to the 2019 General Elections, almost the entire Northeast, mostly ruled by the BJP or the NDA, had registered their protest.
As a revamped bill is all set to be reintroduced by the Modi government, the provisions for “protecting” the indigenous people of the Northeast are said to have been included.
Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh had said during a media interaction in October, “We trust and have confidence that Central leaders will be there to protect the indigenous people of the Northeastern region.”