Manipur may have a coalition government headed by the BJP, but it wants no truck with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's plan to implement the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Northeast. Participants of a meeting chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh yesterday resolved in favour of urging the centre to exempt the state from the controversial legislation.
The proposed bill passed by the Lok Sabha recently aims to hasten the citizenship process of non-Muslim immigrants from three neighbouring countries. The opposition has termed the move as "discriminatory", and people across the northeast have hit the streets in protest.
According to a press release issued by the chief minister's secretariat, the idea did not resonate with the constituents of the coalition government. The BJP rules Manipur in alliance with the National People's Party (NPP), Naga People's Front (NPF) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).
Many National Democratic Alliance (NDA) allies in the Northeast -- including the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam; the Mizo National Front in Mizoram; the NPP in Meghalaya; the Indigenous People's Front of Tripura in Tripura; and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party in Nagaland -- had said that they are not on the same page as the BJP on the matter. The AGP has already quit the alliance.
The Manipur Congress is also against the legislation. Rejecting PM Modi's assurance that the "rights of the Northeastern people will be protected", it has asked the state government to immediately convene an assembly session for taking a decision in this regard.
The state cabinet also decided to urge the central government and the authorities concerned to give its assent to the Manipur Peoples (Protection) Bill-2018, the release added. The state bill passed on July 23 last year defines Manipuris and non-Manipuris, and seeks to regulate the entry of outsiders in order to protect the interests and identity of the indigenous people. The bill defines Meiteis, Pangal Muslims, certain scheduled tribes listed in the Constitution and outsiders living in the state since 1951 as Manipuris.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016 aims to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residing in India even if they do not possess any documents. The current waiting period is 12 years.
(With inputs from PTI)