NPF demands resolution against CAA

NPF demands resolution against CAA
Day-2 of the ongoing fifth session of the 13th NLA, Saturday.
Correspondent KOHIMA, FEB 8 (NPN) | Publish Date: 2/8/2020 12:49:44 PM IST


Opposition members Saturday were vehement in arguing for passing a resolution against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) on the third day of the ongoing fifth session of the 13th NLA. Initiating the discussion against the CAA under matter of urgent public importance, NPF member Dr. Chotisuh Sazo cited reports of the Intelligence Bureau, that the immediate beneficiaries of CAA would be a total of 25,447 persons of which Hindus form 5,807 Sikhs, 55 Christians, 2 Buddhists and 2 Parsis.

He said grant of Indian citizenship through a fast track Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, who arrived in India before 31 December 2014 was on the assumption of religious persecution to illegal immigrants. 

He also cited various estimates of religious minorities in Bangladesh and Nepal. Chotisuh said though Nagaland and some of the north eastern states may not be under imminent danger due to CAA, yet the threat posed by lakhs of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants to the region cannot be ignored. 

According to Chotisuh, shrinking land space in Bangladesh due to rise in sea level was a compelling factor for influx into India. He said while as per the Assam Accord signed in 1985, the cut off date was March 24,1971 but the CAA has extended it to December 31,2014. 

Chotisuh also pointed out that though CAA exempted tribal areas of Tripura, Mizoram, Assam and Meghalaya under the Sixth Schedule and Areas under the ILP notified under the BEFR 1873, yet it did not exempt urban area in the region. 

He said the notion that ILP would protect Nagas was not based on facts as it has failed to check immigrants and instead practically becoming a permanent residency permit for immigrants whose numbers were rising alarmingly.  Chotisuh also pointed out that more than 60% of the business establishments in Dimapur and Kohima are controlled by non-locals who have penetrated the most remote villages in Nagaland.

He cited a report of Kohima Municipal Council which stated that there are 6668 shops registered in Kohima till August 2019, out of which, 1720 shops are registered under Non-Nagas. However, he said many Non-Nagas have registered their shops in the name of Nagas. 

He cautioned that this would eventually lead to a replication in Nagaland or Arunachal Pradesh over what happened in Tripura where the immigrant population became dominant over the indigenous tribals. He said this can happen if Nagas do not wake up and take a stand today and appealed to members to pass a resolution rejecting this contentious Act (CAA) 2019.

NPF MLA Dr. Chumben Murry echoed the same stating that in spite of the huge protest, resentment and opposition against the Bill country wide, it was unfortunate that NDA Government decided to pass the Bill and eventually became a Law.

He said such an Act can come by if only there was vested interest and hidden agenda. He said the ruling PDA heeded to the voices of the people against the CAB and agreed to pass the house resolution on February 23, 2019 though with a rider, that Article 371(A) and BEFR 1873 protects Nagaland from CAB.

Dr. Chumben Murry explained that Article 371(A) involved social and religious practices, Naga Customary Law and Land and its Resources and not related with citizenship issue. 

He also reminded the house of the central government notification which maintained that Nagaland does not have legislative powers to frame the NP&NG Rules and Regulations.

He said this has made the Article 371(A) almost a redundant law because, it did not act in given due time.

He urged ruling members not to believe the Union Home Minister Amit Shah who assured that provisions in CAA were being made for protection of Nagaland. He however said Shah stated : “CAA is not a state subject”, during the recent interview with Times Now when asked whether states have any option if they don’t want to implement CAA.

Murry said the ground reality was that the state has no role whatsoever in granting of citizenship or exemption as provided under the amended CAA that have no meaning. Therefore, he sought that resolution be passed rejecting CAA.

Concluding the speech from the opposition bench, Leader of the Opposition (LoO) T.R. Zeliang gave a detailed explanation that with CAA, illegal immigrants will no longer be illegal since , any person who came to India without any proper documentation can be granted citizenship by residing in the country for a minimum of six years. 

He said if the government of India sought to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities of neighbouring countries, why were refugees from Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and the Buddhists from Tibet not given the same opportunity? He said the Act was mainly to create political vote banks taking without considering the sentiments of the people across the country.

Zeliang said Nagaland was the most vulnerable to the threat from migrants and illegal immigrants taking over the State’s economy as the indigenous inhabitants of Nagaland have been depended on them for decades. 

Citing the “flip-flop” decision of the PDA government, Zeliang said PDA government does not know what they themselves are doing and to add salt to the wounds of the Naga public, he said PDA has called for consultative meet after taking unilateral decisions after decisions.

LoO asserted that though the BJP as well as the NDPP members was equally concerned for the future generation of the Nagas, they however for their political survival were bound to obey the central directives at the cost of the Naga people.

He questioned the stand of the lone independent, who was former NSF president and who was not bound by any party whip but who should not be scared to speak his mind on CAA.

Zeliang expressed doubt that since BEFR 1873 was not even enacted by Parliament, it can be removed and annulled. He also reminded that no matter how the ruling bench claim protection, as long as Nagaland was under the constitution of India, CAA will definitely have a huge negative impact on the social set up of the people if not immediately then in the long run. 

LoO appealed the government to take a firm stand and also show the public that they care for the posterity of the Nagas so that Nagas will not be taken by immigrant populace and become a minority in the own State like Tripura.

 He concluded by commenting that as long as Assam was not protected from the threat of these illegal immigrants, none of the neighbouring states in North East would be safe and the false illusion that Nagaland was safe for having ILP regime should be done away so the house must oppose CAA implementation in unison.

BJP opposes anti-CAA resolution
Taking part in the discussion on matters of public importance concerning the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, minister for Higher and Technical Education and Tribal Affairs, Temjen Imna Along, who is also state BJP president, asked the members not to mislead the people of the state and insisted that no amendment or resolution be taken on CAA.
Stating that state demography or the situation of the state would change in no way, Along thanked the opposition party for bringing up the issue frequently.
Along said CAB 2016 and CAA 2019 differed because the Centre, after seeing the protest in North East, showed its commitment to protect the indigenous people and included BEFR 1873 in the central list. He sarcastically thanked the opposition members for being a party of those who shouted/protested against CAA due to which BEFR was included.
He explained that CAA was applicable only to those people coming to India on or before December 31, 2014 and whether or not allowing non-Nagas to come and stay in Nagaland was a state subject. 
The minister thanked government of India for allowing the prosecuted Christians from the three countries to get Indian citizenship.
On the accusation of the opposition members about the prosecuted people from other countries besides the three countries, he asked the opposition members to write letter to PM to allow the same.
Along maintained that Nagaland has the biggest problem of having illegal Bangladeshi immigrants who have having all documentations and posing great threat to the Nagas.
Even during the CAA protest in Dimapur, Along said he saw many Bangladeshi Muslim leaders shouting slogans.
The Minister also claimed that TR Zeliang, GB federation, NSF president, political party leaders form Nagaland and all those present at the meeting on December 3, 2019 convened by home minister Amit Shah in Delhi, concurred after the commitment given by the home minister to insert special clause. 
However, Zeliang countered saying he was not concur. Zelaing said he told the home minister that he would thank him (Amit Shah) only after seeing the Bill. Zeliang went on to say that the two BJP leaders remained silent and did not speak a word on the issue.
Interestingly, the deputy chief minister Y Patton stood up and clarified that the central leaders did not allow them (he and Temjen Imna Along) to speak unless necessary.
Responding to opposition members remarks on effects of CAA, Patton justified that Nagaland enjoyed special status among all the States of the country under Article 371 A of the Constitution.
He said that from the beginning right from the time when such amendments were being proposed in the Citizenship Act 1955 by the earlier Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, it was meticulously looked into the proposed amendment provisions, its adverse fallout, if any, on the state at several cabinet meetings. Patton said that after looking into the entire ecosystem of protection provided by Article 371 A and the ILP Regime of BEFR 1873, it was clear that the provisions of the proposed Bill would not be applicable to the State. Patton said this was firmly conveyed to the Centre of the special protection and the clear position of the state government that the proposed CAB 2016, on enactment would not be applicable in Nagaland.
However, he said the centre was urged to have wider consultations with all the North-eastern states to ensure that the rights of the indigenous people were fully protected.
Patton explained that before the Bill was passed in the parliament, an appeal was made on behalf of the people of Nagaland to exempt the State from the purview of CAB so that any misgiving or iota of apprehension regarding the adverse impact of the Bill was completely laid to rest.
He said the meeting attendees on December 3, 2019 with Amit Shah put forth their concerns and urged for complete exemption of the State from the applicability of the proposed CAB.
According to Patton, the home minister assured to look into the concerns and make suitable provisions in the proposed Bill. He also said that after getting a firm assurance from Amit Shah the meeting attendees were “happy” and further appeals were made for exempting the State from the purview of the Bill.
The deputy chief minister said that prior to the day CAB 2019 was laid in the Lok Sabha, PDA government decided to operationalize the decision taken earlier by extending ILP to cover the entire district of Dimapur with immediate effect.
Patton appreciated the Centre for taking into consideration of the concerns with utmost seriousness leaving no doubt or apprehension in the mind of anyone by exempting the state altogether from the purview and applicability of CAA by providing a specific provision in the Act.
Considering that all the concerns of the State and people have been suitably and comprehensively addressed and provisions have been incorporated in the Act as per the appeal, Patton said that there was further discussion was required on the subject. Advisor school education K.T Sukhalu also took part in the discussion.
Patton assures action against illegal collections at gates
Opposition NPF Saturday raised the issue of taxation (legal/illegal) at check gates during the ongoing budget session where deputy chief minister and minister in-charge of Home, Y. Patton Friday said that he had no information regarding tax collections at check gates by unauthorized organizations. He, however, assured to take strict action against those carrying out such activities.
Replying to a starred question raised by NPF MLA Kuzholuzo (Azo) Neinu regarding number of both legal and illegal check gates set up between Kohima to Dimapur and Nagaland Gate, Patton informed that there was only one Police check gate at Chümoukedima, permitted by the Home department political branch vide order No. CON -1 /G/41/2011 dated 28/06/2011.
To queries regarding rates of toll fees fixed or collected by Police, Traffic, Excise, MVI, Forest department and Geology & Mining department, Patton said except Geology & Mining department-- that has one mineral check gate at Chümoukedima for levying royalty on minor minerals, no other departments collect fees. 
When Azo questioned the legality of the taxes collected at check gates set up by different organizations including NPGs, Patton said there was no information regarding check gates manned by organizations other than the ones mentioned above.
When the opposition MLA claimed that there was ample evidence and proof of multiple taxation by various organizations at check gates, Patton responded to the claim by assuring that the government would look into the matter if provided with proper evidence and proof of existence and initiate strict action against defaulters. Azo handed over a document pertaining to the such check gates seeking action from the government.
(With DIPR inputs)

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