Contentious and divisive

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/10/2019 10:39:43 AM IST

 There had already been more then enough warnings to the Centre against passing the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which was passed in the midst of violent protests in some parts of the north east, particularly in Assam and Tripura. Prior to the passage in parliament, various organisations in the north east had warned the government of India against it. Even the BJP’s Assam ally, the AGP had warned against passage of the bill or else the party would withdraw support to the coalition government. The influential North East Students Organisation(NESO) spearheaded the protest and when it appeared that the bill would be passed, the organisation launched a 12-hour bandh throughout the region on January 8. The Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The concern/threat from illegal immigrants is a reality in the region. The concern and resentment against illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in particular is widespread. Thus when the BJP sought to exploit antagonism by coming out with a communally divisive bill, it was against the spirit of the Indian constitution. The bill stretches the cutoff date for granting citizenship from March 24,1971 as mentioned in the 1985 Assam Accord to December 31,2014. The BJP ploy was to distort the concern against immigrants by trying to legalise Hindu immigrants and discriminating against muslim immigrants. By legalising Hindu immigrants, the BJP wants the people of the region and particularly, Assam, to accept that the state needs Hindu population to ensure that the political clout of the Muslims is nullified. The bill is a huge blow to all the indigenous people of the North East as the number of Hindus among the illegal immigrants entering from the neighbouring countries in the region is huge. The passage of the citizenship amendment bill is a great injustice to the people of Assam and the region. Had the BJP only focussed on deportation of immigrants without granting citizenship to other immigrants, then there would have been no uproar in the region. All NE states- Bengali-majority Tripura partially- are against it while the governments in Meghalaya and Nagaland including Manipur, where BJP is part of the coalition governments, also wanted the NDA government at the Centre to review the bill. States where BJP is part of the ruling coalition, mull extension of the Inner Line Regulation(BEFR) as a solution. The issue of immigration, which is a sensitive matter should have been dealt with through existing provisions. Now that Bengali speaking Bangladeshi Hindus are to be facilitated with easy grant of Indian citizenship, the consequences are certain to lead to a crisis situation. The danger is that forces working against the unity and integrity of the nation especially in the sensitive north east region could exploit the sentiments of the people. When people are already feeling resentment at being taken for a ride, it can only magnify the problem. The BJP has taken the decision despite genuine concerns expressed by the people including all political parties barring the BJP. This means the BJP does not bother about the sentiments of the people but determined to push through its divisive agenda. It remains to be seen how the people of the region respond when the time comes to decide whether they support such measures during the 2019 parliamentary elections.

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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