Citizenship Bill: NPF trying to confuse people, says CM

Citizenship Bill: NPF trying  to confuse people, says CM
Rio speaking at the Poanglüm Mini Hornbill festival.
DIMAPUR, JAN 12 (NPN) | Publish Date: 1/12/2019 11:18:46 AM IST

Coming under attack from the opposition party over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill issue, chief minister, Neiphiu Rio, Saturday expressed surprise that the NPF had raised its voice only now and remained silent when the Bill was introduced in July 2016. 

In this regard, he questioned whether the NPF was silent at that time since it was in alliance with the BJP then. “NPF and BJP were alliance partners in 2016 and were running the State government. During their time, the NPF did not oppose it. Only now when we are doing our best, they are trying to confuse people,” the chief minister was quoted by media cell CMO as saying while addressing Poanglüm Mini Hornbill organised by the Chang Khulei Setshang at Loyem Memorial Ground at Tuensang town Saturday.

The chief minister pointed out that the Cabinet had on June 5, 2018 and January 7, 2019 discussed the Bill, saying Nagas and Nagaland state are protected under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act, 1873 and the Inner Line Permit regulations. “The 16 Point Agreement through which we attained Statehood, also clearly states in Clause No. 16 that with regard to Inner Line Regulation, the rules embodied in the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1973, shall remain in force in Nagaland,” Rio said.

The chief minister  urged the people not to be misled by the views of opposition parties especially when the bill has not even been passed in the Rajya Sabha for which there is still time to review the bill.

He reaffirmed the Cabinet’s decision that the Bill in its present form needed review and expressed solidarity with those communities who would be affected if the bill becomes an Act. “The Bill has not even been passed. I do not know what the Opposition is trying to portray,” Rio said.

The chief minister reminded that the Cabinet resolved to propose adoption of a resolution reaffirming all provisions of Article 371 (A) and to strengthen the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) as per Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, (BEFR) of 1873 in the next Session of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly. “We had also resolved to discuss with all political parties as well as with all stakeholders,” he said.

Further, the chief minister asserted that the state government was studying the ground realities and the effectiveness of ILP in the State particularly in the foothills of Dimapur. While taking note of public opinions of having a law that would forfeit Naga women of their tribal status if they married non-Nagas, the chief minister said the issue needed thorough discussions in the Assembly.

Rio maintained that Nagas should look towards positivity and not try to pick out issues or play blame games. “We should forgive, forget and promote unity so that we can automatically be developed with a bright future for our people, particularly the youths”, he added.

The chief minister also said that in order to let peace and unity prevailed in the society the Nagas needed to unite their hearts and move forward together.

Rio called upon the people to continue to work hard like forefathers and enjoy the fruits of sweat and labour. He reminded that Nagas were different for which even the Government of India had recognised their uniqueness. The chief minister said that the Naga issue was not a law and order issue but a political issue, which needs a political settlement.

Affirming that tourism is the biggest industry not only in Nagaland or India but in the world, the chief minister said that Nagas have great potential in cultural tourism, rural tourism and eco-tourism. 

He highlighted figures from last year’s Hornbill festival at Kisama wherein the total number of tourists who attended the 10-day long festival was 2,51,701 out of which 2,11,602 were local tourists, while 37,397 were domestic tourists and 2702 were foreign tourists. He said that tourists travel the world to get a glimpse of different places and spend money and therefore, we need to promote our culture if we are to promote tourism. As such, observing festivals is not only good but also necessary.

Stating that in 2015, Tamil Nadu recorded an inflow of 33,34,59,047 domestic tourists thereby accounting for 23.3% share in the country and 46,84,707 foreign tourists which translates to 20.1% share of foreign tourist inflow into India, Rio said that the tourist inflow into Tamil Nadu was much more than the entire population of Nagaland. “That is why I say there is vast potential for tourism in Nagaland. However, we need to have peace, communication, infrastructure etc for which my Government is working towards this end,” he said.  

Highlighting the quantum jump Nagas have made from headhunting to embracing Christianity and education, the chief minister stated that the earlier mindset of “Might is Right” has now evolved into “Right is Might”. As such, he said the Naga political issue was under dialogue with the negotiating parties looking for a peaceful, honourable and inclusive settlement.

Lauding the Changs for their camaraderie with the other tribes, Rio hoped that love, harmony, cohesiveness, unity and reconciliation will prevail in Naga society. “Nagas will be extremely progressive when there is such level of unity and cohesiveness everywhere. Our slogan during the last general elections was ‘Change is Coming’ and we are doing our best to bring change for the better,” he added.

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