Union home minister Amit Shah asserted that the BJP-led NDA government was determined to bring in the Citizenship Amendment Bill but it will ensure that it doesn’t override the existing provisions and protections granted to the region’s tribal people.
Referring the concern expressed by at least two chief ministers, of Meghalaya and Mizoram, at the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) conclave in Guwahati, he said the fears of the chief ministers was genuine but they need not to worry as the BJP government had decided to keep the cut-off date in the Citizenship Amendment Bill up to December 31, 2014.
Earlier, Meghalaya CM Conrad Sangma told Amit Shah that the Central government should take the region into confidence on the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Addressing the fourth conclave of NEDA here in the presence of Shah, Sangma asked whether the Centre would bypass discussions with states before reintroducing the bill.
“What will happen after CAB? Will people continuously come from Bangladesh? Will there be any deadline or a continuous flow? We in the Northeast have such fears,” Mr Sangma said. He requested the Centre to invite all stakeholders to discuss and arrive at a consensus over the issue.
“We are under the Sixth Schedule. So will the CAB overlook local laws? Please invite us and look into the interests of the people of the Northeast. Remove our fears. I believe you (Shah) will take care of our fears,” he added.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently.
Amit Shah, who spoke at length about NEDA’s role, also asked the chief ministers of all northeastern states to make the region free from corruption. Saying that the Congress had followed a policy of divide and rule in the Northeast, Mr Shah said: “We need to bring an end to Congress culture. It has caused huge damage to the northeastern states. The Congress also played a role in insurgency.”
Asserting that NEDA’s prime objective was to unite the northeastern states, he said: “Every state is an integral part of India, to spread this feeling at the grassroots level it was important to make the Northeast ‘Congress mukt’. Today, I’m delighted that all eight states of the Northeast are with NEDA and the region is Congress mukt.”
Asking the CMs to sort out border disputes through internal consultations, Shah also stressed the need of using NEDA as a joint platform for coordination of the eight states. Promising to extend all support from the Centre to accelerate the pace of development, He asked the northeastern states to prepare a joint tourist circuit of all states in the region for tourists.