Opposition to the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is to be tabled in the ongoing Winter Session of Parliament, is intensifying in the northeast. The BJP government in Arunachal Pradesh has indicated it will "unequivocally" oppose the legislation unless specific amendments are made. This comes two days after the BJP's ally in Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which had opposed the bill earlier this year as well, said it too would not support the bill. However, it has said it is open to consultations before the bill is tabled. Protests were also recorded in Manipur after an 18-hour bandh was called on Tuesday.
After a "final meeting" on the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), which was attended by the government, other political parties, student and youth bodies, and community-based organisations, a consultative committee has asked the centre, through the state government, to include provisions of the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 and the Chin Hills Regulation of 1896 in the bill.
"...all provisions (of the 1873 Regulation)... shall be deemed to have been enacted under this (the citizenship bill) act and shall have effect accordingly..." a statement released by Chief Minister Pemu Khanda's government said.
The letter to the centre said the inclusion of these two regulations were necessary to protect the indigenous tribal people of Arunachal Pradesh.
The "final meeting" was chaired by Bamang Felix, Arunachal Home Minister and Chairman of CAB 2019 consultative committee.
Chief Minister Khandu will now visit Delhi to appraise the Union Home Ministry on the decision of the people of Arunachal Pradesh in regard to the citizenship bill.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill makes it easier for Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from neighbouring countries to get Indian citizenship. The previous BJP government had introduced the bill in parliament but could not push through amid massive protests by a united opposition. The bill had later lapsed.
The tabling of the bill had triggered massive protests in the northeast states earlier this year. The AGP had severed ties with the government over the issue. However, a month before the national election in May, the two parties had come together again.
"You all are aware of our stand on citizenship bill and there is no change in our stand. Amit Shah had assured us of a meeting earlier. He assured us the interest of northeast will not be harmed and I am sure he will keep the promise," AGP president and Assam Agriculture minister Atul Bora told NDTV.
Last week, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, an ally of the BJP, had urged the party to hold more consultation with its northeast partners before going ahead with the bill.
Sources have said the BJP is likely to hold consultative meeting with its regional allies. Before tabling the bill, the party wants to build consensus among its partners over the issue.