Twenty-two workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party on Tuesday joined the Naga People’s Front in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act, EastMojo reported on Wednesday.
Naga People’s Front President Shurhozelie Liezietsu welcomed the BJP leaders at a function held in Dimapur, according to a press statement by the party. More leaders from the saffron party are expected to join the party in coming days, it added.
Liezietsu said the leaders made the right decision at the right time, adding that his party represents the unique identity of the Naga people. “Many regional political parties came into being and when they are defeated, the party vanished,” he said.
Law and legal affairs convenor Toshi Longkumer, and former state president of the BJP’s minority cell Mukibur Rahman, were among those who switched sides. Rahman said the introduction of the amended citizenship law will sooner or later affect the people of Northeastern states particularly. He said the Naga People’s Front is working hard to protect the identity of the people.
In December, the Nagaland government had extended the Inner Line Permit system to the whole of Dimapur district with immediate effect. The permit is a document that outsiders need before travelling to places defined as “protected areas” in some states in the Northeast. The Inner Line Permit system covers the whole of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, most of Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura, Manipur and certain pockets of Assam.
But Rahman said the Inner Line Permit provisions will not stop undocumented migrants from entering the state.
The Citizenship Amendment Act, approved by Parliament on December 11 last year and notified on January 10, provides citizenship to refugees from six minority religious communities from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have lived in India for six years and entered the country by December 31, 2014. The Act, which has been widely criticised for excluding Muslims, triggered nationwide protests since December. In the North East, people have protested against the law as they believe it threatens the region’s indigenous cultures.