CAB will create demographic imbalance in NE region: NEFIP

CAB will create demographic imbalance in NE region: NEFIP
Members of NEFIP after the meeting in Guwahati, Friday.
DIMAPUR, AUG 9 (NPN) | Publish Date: 8/9/2019 11:21:42 AM IST

North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP), a conglomeration of various civil society groups, has warned that Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), if passed, would create demographic imbalance in the already fragile indigenous population of the Northeast and pose grave danger to their very existence, irrespective of the size of their population.

In a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the forum alleged that the Bill violated Article 14 as also the Preamble of the Constitution of India. 

Warning that CAB would have severe impact on the ongoing process to update National Register of Citizenship (NRC) in Assam monitored by Supreme Court as the crucial dates of reference to recognise an immigrant for naturalisation were different, NEFIP pointed out that it negated section 6A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 introduced in pursuance to Assam Accord, 1985 and would jeopardise the whole exercise already carried out. The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha on July 15, 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 and give Indian citizenship to all “persecuted religious minorities” from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan like Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists and Parsis.

Referring to the CAB’s objective of naturalising all illegal immigrants belonging these communities, the memorandum signed by NEFIP convener Ningthouja Lancha explained that it would be incorrect to assume that all illegal immigrants professing various faiths had entered India surreptitiously due to religious persecution in their home country, as most of them were economic immigrants. 

And though BJP leaders had assured that the Bill would not harm indigenous people’s economic, traditional and cultural interest, the forum said even now almost 80% of the economy was controlled by non-indigenous inhabitants of the region. So to further add non-indigenous population would not only aggravate the already marginalised indigenous population, but supplant the local population to the point of extinction, it warned. 

Dismissing the argument that State governments could not be bypassed during the naturalisation process, NEFIP pointed out that a person not recommended for naturalisation in a particular State could apply for naturalisation from another State and thus become a citizen of India.

“... thus there is no way to stop them. In such case, a State can allow millions of foreigners to become Indians who cannot be denied entry into any State hence,” it pointed out.

According to the forum, currently there were an estimated four million illegal immigrants in Assam who could not be granted citizenship under NRC. But, if CAB was enacted, these foreigners would be easily accommodated as legal citizens under one pretext or other, which would further worsen the present demographic crisis, it warned. 

Meanwhile, NEFIP also expressed concern over the two notifications of September 7, 2015 by which the Passport (Entry into India) Rules of 1950 was amended, whereby those foreigners from the three countries who had entered into India by December 31, 2014 were legalised. The second notification amended the Foreigners Orders of 1948 by which the restrictive rules were relaxed for these illegal immigrants. And according to the forum, these were nothing but forerunner of CAB, adding that these relaxations of laws were detrimental to the interests of indigenous people of the Northeast. 

Questioning the wisdom of the Union Government on preferring foreigners over indigenous citizens in the Northeast as all these initiatives were aimed at protecting the foreigners at the expense of the indigenous citizens who had live in their ancestral lands since time immemorial, the forum mentioned in its memorandum that it was hopeful for a positive initiative and prompt action in the interest of the indigenous populace of the region.

The forum also congratulated Modi for the spectacular achievement of his party in securing absolute majority in the Lok Sabha elections under his dynamic leadership. 

NEFIP came into existence as a consequence against the passing of CAB on January 8 this year in Lok Sabha to uphold the aspirations of indigenous people inhabiting the seven North-eastern States Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. 



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