Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Friday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to urge the Centre to scrap the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The Lok Sabha had passed the controversial bill on January 8.
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents.
“We have expressed our concerns over the bill,” Sangma, whose National People’s Party is in alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Meghalaya, said after meeting Singh, NDTV reported. “All coalition partners from Meghalaya are against the amendment. We have urged the Centre to reconsider its decision and not to go forward with the bill.”
Zoramthanga said the Mizoram government does not want amendments to the existing bill. “Let it be as it is,” he said.
Sangma said that Singh told him that he will look into the matter, and call a meeting of all chief ministers from Northeastern states. The chief minister met Singh with a delegation of nine Meghalaya cabinet ministers, Northeast Now reported.
On Wednesday, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh said the BJP-led state government will oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill unless there is a provision to protect the indigenous people of the North East. N Biren Singh said he and a few ministers had submitted a memorandum to Rajnath Singh, seeking President Ram Nath Kovind’s assent to the Manipur People’s (Protection) Bill, 2018.
The North East has been in a state of turmoil because of violence against the controversial draft law. In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition in protest against the Citizenship Bill in the first week of January. Three Asom Gana Parishad state ministers later quit the Cabinet.
BJP National General Secretary Ram Madhav said on Friday that the party was “reaching out” to allies who were opposed to the bill. “We’ll reassure them that interests of each and every state will be taken care of,” he said. “We’re confident that those who have left will come back.” However, the BJP leader accused those opposed to the bill of spreading misinformation.