Footballer-turned-politician Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday urged the ruling Sikkim Krantikari Morcha to quit the National Democratic Alliance in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, PTI reported.
The former India men’s football team captain said he was disappointed that Sikkim was not excluded from the bill’s provisions under the Inner Line Permit system – an “exemption” granted to other states in the North East. Bhutia is the working president of the Hamro Sikkim Party.
The former footballer said the Citizenship Bill would dilute special provisions enjoyed by Sikkim under Article 371F of Constitution. He urged the ruling party to press for the state’s inclusion in the Inner Line Permit system.
“We are deeply disappointed with the CAB [Citizenship Amendment Bill],” Bhutia wrote on Facebook. “The Bill has not excluded Sikkim compared to other north-east states like Nagaland, Meghalaya and a few others. We wanted Sikkim also be mentioned in writing on the bill like other north-east states.” He claimed that the Bill would dilute Article 371F in the long run.
Last year’s protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the North East forced the Home Ministry to tweak the Bill. According to the revised draft, the changes to the citizenship law will not be applicable to regions in the North East protected by the Inner Line Permit and Sixth Schedule provisions. Both regimes aim to protect tribal communities’ way of life.
The proposed amendments were passed in the Lok Sabha late on Monday, and are likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday afternoon. If enacted, the Citizenship Amendment Bill will grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.