Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Sunday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi along with the chief ministers of other Northeastern states to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and the protests that the draft law have sparked in the region.
Most Northeastern states have opposed the proposed legislation. On January 29, 10 regional parties and the Janata Dal (United) met in Guwahati to “unanimously and jointly oppose” the bill. Most of the parties, including Sangma’s National People’s Party, are allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
“At the meeting, we expressed the concerns of the people of the North East, and got a very, very positive response from the home minister,” Sangma said. “He mentioned that he is taking the sentiments of the people of the North East into consideration. [He said] this issue is important at the national level.”
Sangma said Singh told him that he would discuss the draft law with other political parties and civil society organisations. “I think it is a very positive signal that whatever decision is made on how to move forward, will be taken only after detailed consultations with everyone,” the chief minister added.
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. The Lok Sabha passed the bill in January.
Sangma said he was hopeful about the efforts against the bill bearing fruit. “We will try our best to ensure that the government does not go ahead with this bill, and our opposition and our work will continue,” he added.