The centre may exempt parts of Northeast India from the ambit of the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill likely to be tabled in the winter session of Parliament, official sources said on Saturday.
The region had last year witnessed widespread protests against the bill, which seeks to expedite the citizenship process for non-Muslim migrants from surrounding countries, and many BJP allies voiced their reservations in this regard too. Keeping their objections in view, Home Minister Amit Shah decided to hold a consultative meeting with the chief ministers of northeastern states through Friday and Saturday in New Delhi. He had spoken to political leaders, student bodies and civil society groups in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya in this regard on Saturday.
According to sources, the centre is likely to modify the draft bill to exempt all northeastern areas that come under the 6th schedule of the constitution as well as states with an inner line permit from its ambit. It will also ensure that the amendment does not override provisions of Article 371, through which various northeastern states enjoy special status, they added.
Significantly, Assam's autonomous Bodoland region - governed by the Bodo Territorial Council - may also be kept out of the purview of the bill because it comes under the 6th schedule of the constitution. However, areas in the region that don't benefit from these provisions will be subject to the Citizenship Amendment Bill once it is passed, sources said.
Dozens of parliamentarians from the northeast had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi against implementing the proposed law in the region, and civil society groups also expressed concern over the manner in which it would affect the tribal population in the region.
The Inner Line Permit system is applicable for Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation-1873. Its main objective is to prevent people from other parts of the country from settling in these states, thereby protecting the identity of its indigenous population.