Post Mortem

Kenye on why he voted for CAB

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 1/15/2020 12:27:28 PM IST

 My Dear fellow Citizens of Nagaland,

As your M.P in the Upper House (Rajya Sabha) in the Parliament of India, you deserve an explanation from me over the controversy surrounding the latest Amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 which has caused a storm in the public domain in the State of Nagaland and the Region. For want of completing Party formalities and the resultant misfortune, I profoundly regret the delay in reaching-out to you in time. In the following pages, with no legal background I wish to explain and share with you in my simple layman’s language certain facts of history and the realities underlining this contentious issue while reflecting on the background also dwelling on the present situation and the scope of the future as a consequence of this Bill. As the matter involves our over-all interest I seek to draw your fullest attention and consideration. 

What is Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 (Citizenship Amendment Act 2019)?

The Citizenship Amendment Act 2019 is the latest Amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 (referred to as the Principal Citizenship Act of 1955). The main object of the CAA 2019 is to grant Citizenship to the refugees who have entered and settled in India on or before the 31st of December 2014 from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh belonging to the 6 minority religions such as- Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian who are seeking shelter in India which is secular and free for all religions. The illegal immigrants have fled from these three countries because they are tortured and persecuted in their own countries which are Theophoric States/Nations with ISLAM declared in their Constitutions as the National Religion. The Illegal Bangladesh Immigrants (IBI) refugees issue has dogged the NE States for many decades especially since 1971 but no successive govt at the Centre has shown the political will to resolve this problem despite the Assam Accord of 1985. When finally, this decision was taken, it will naturalise a huge bulk of population which have snowballed into a mass protest by the people of this region. 

Apprehensions: The reason for opposing the granting of citizenship to the Refugees through an Amendment Act of the original CAB 2016 and CAB 8th January 2019 are varied and many, differing from State to State. But for the Indigenous tribal populations of the North-East Region, the reason is mainly the fear of population over-run meaning a demographic invasion upon their territorial land, socio-cultural heritage, customary practises, lingual, racial and religious practises, Economic and political exploitations and their very existence as a people. The fears are genuine and the threat is compounded now by taking–in more citizens. The tribal indigenous population is very sparse and low with a national census percentage of 2.5 as maximum in the entire N.E Region. This being a fact, the British Empire in India had closely guarded the interest of the land and the people of this Tribal Area as far back as the 19th Century with Regulations like the Inner-Line Permit which prohibited All citizens of India from entering into the Naga Hills and other tribal Areas long before we were aware of the dangers surrounding us. Very strict provisions were promulgated imposing heavy penalty and imprisonment for violation of the Restrictive Laws of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873. Other protective laws may exist for other aspects of the tribal life but to check the influx of Demographic invasion (population inflow) by the swarming millions from neighbouring mainland India, there was never such a Law so effective and providing an overall protective shield over the centuries. Today in the face of this threat looming over our heads we once again have to take refuge under this defensive structure.

Therefore, the reason behind our opposition and protest against the proposed original CAB of 2016 up to the 8th of December 2019 was that this Bill does not provide any protective Section or clause to shield us against the influx of Illegal Bangladesh Immigrants (IBI) and the neighbouring mainland citizens of India.

Background of Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873 (Inner Line Permit)

The history of Inner Line Permit (ILP) Regulation traces back its concepts and origin to the British Parliament, when the then Prime Minister (1855 -1865) Henry John Temple the 3rd Lord Palmerston declared in a very clear and determined statement to the Parliament “It is not only our duty.....but in our interest to promote the diffusion of Christianity as far as possible throughout the length and breadth of India”. Re-enforcing the obvious intension behind the British policy, the Secretary of States Lord Halifax observed “Every additional Indian Christian is an additional bond of Union and a source of strength to the British Empire” Emphasising more precisely on the value they placed in this policy- Sir Mac Worth Young stated “They (Christians) are worth far more to the British Empire than all those civil servants, soldiers, judges and governors of India”! 

Such reiteration of Great Britain’s will to propagate Christianity in British-India must have been necessary since their campaign had not evoked satisfactory result which was undertaken since 1813 in the rest of India. Prompting a more focused and systematic approach towards certain Identified Regions as the “Thrust Areas” beyond the demarcated Inner-Line they carved out the Indigenous Tribal Areas as a Reserved Zone. Despite the strict Prohibitory Rules the American Missionaries were continuously encouraged and a Free Passage was given to them throughout the 19th and 20th Centuries finally accomplishing their set goals. And the rest is history for which we are ever grateful to the Almighty GOD.

Therefore the stand taken by leading statesman of the world’s mightiest Empire of their times conceptualized an essentially Religious policy which soon found expressions in the birth of the ILP of Bengal Eastern Frontiers Regulation on the 1st of November 1873 in British–India under the Governor General Lord North Brook and the Lt. Governor of Bengal Province Mr.George Campbell. 

After this Regulation was published in the Gazette of India and the preamble published in the Calcutta Gazette it will there upon have “the Force of Law” under the provision of Act 33rd of Victoria Chapter 3. 

In the 1st Category of the Local Extend “Naga Hills” is mentioned prominently and later by notification under the Scheduled District Acts 1874 XIV Section 5 it was extended to several indigenous Tribal Areas of the present North-Eastern Region (part I, page 529. 1873) 

The provisions of Inner Line Permit Regulations were strictly enforced upon “All citizens of India” or any class of such citizens (meaning even British who were citizens of India) were prohibited from entering the Inner – Line Areas. This implies that the ILP was exclusively and categorically meant to restrict all Citizens of Indian (2nd Page – Para II of Regulation 5 of 1873). Even if granted an ILP, the Rules were extremely harsh as seen in 5 (1) “ Any rubber, wax, or other jungle products or any Books, Diary, Manuscript, Maps, picture, photograph, film, curio or Article of Religious or scientific interest unless permitted by the British-India authority will be confiscated by the Magistrate and even partly written scripts were a violation of the Regulations inside the Inner Line Areas.

Provision No.7 states “ It shall not be Lawful for any person other than a native (local) of the notified District comprised in the preamble of this Regulation, to acquire any interest in land (buy land) or the product of land inside the Inner-Line without the sanction of the Authority (State Govt.)”

From the aforementioned provisions of the ILP Regulations and the Penalties imposed for violators, it is clear that this served as the strongest tool in safe-guarding and protecting our over-all interest especially in the religious, social, lingual and cultural aspects preserving our identity as a people to survive with our ethos in all aspect of life and it shielded us like a floodgate against the demographic invasion from the swarming millions of mainland India which certainly would have marginalised our population to an abject minority which in a democracy will mean complete dominance of the political powers by strangers in our own land. All these dangers were lurking around us long before we realised our precarious situation, when the ILP Regulations was silently and stoutly defending us through-out the British-India period. 

Coincidently, though the driving force was motivated for diffusion of Christianity, the ILP Regulation of 1873 can be rightly attributed as the strongest factor which has shielded and protected the Naga society very effectively ever since its inception up to 1946. The turning point for the ILP emerged when India achieved her Independence in 1947 and started to frame her own new Constitution where the legal standing and Constitutional position of the ILP was completely compromised, weakened and displaced as the ILP BEF Regulation was never incorporated into the Principal Citizenship Act of 1955 which is a Restrictive Law exclusively and categorically to prohibit all citizens of India and also the British citizens living in India during that period. This affected a paradigm shift in the effective strength and powers of the ILP Regulation reducing it to a mere Notification/Memo/Order at the whim and wishes of the Central/Union Government of India which can be scrapped overnight. Thereby, placing our only protective shield at the mercy of a Union Cabinet decision which will not fall within the purview of the Parliament.

Thus, the two important essences went missing in the new Constitution of India:-

(1) In the Citizenship Act of 1955 where the citizens of India were given their Rights and Privileges and also the Restrictions and Conditions, the Restriction on all citizens of India to not thoroughfare into the ILP Areas was not incorporated thereby not subjecting and binding the provision of BEFR of 1873 on the citizens of India And,

(2) The extension and coverage of the ILP Regulation with specific reference to the territories and Tribal Areas has never been reflected or incorporated in any Act of the Constitution which underwent the Enactment of Parliament thereby, rendering the ILP Regulation’s coverage purely on a temporary basis. Meaning it can be withdrawn or scrapped overnight. 

(To be concluded)

K.G.Kenye, 

M.P (Rajya Sabha)

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