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PPA, Congress join hands to fight Citizenship Bill

Our correspondent
Itanagar, May 12: Considering the possible disastrous fallout of the implementation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 proposed by the Centre to make migrants of six communities eligible for Indian citizenship, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) and the People’s Party of Arunachal (PPA) on Friday convened a joint meeting here resolving to vociferously oppose and fight against the highly controversial Bill.

PPA secretary general Kaling Tayeng said both the parties discussed at length on the said Bill and the immediate need for amending the Arunachal Statehood Act, 1986 and agreed to fight unitedly on these two issues. The State’s lone regional party has been insisting over the period of time that the Arunachal Pradesh Statehood Act, 1986 should be reviewed and amended and the State of Arunachal Pradesh be constitutionally placed in Article 371 (A) instead of Article 371 (H) that will give special status to Arunachal on par with the States of Nagaland and Mizoram.
Strongly opposing the contentious legislation, APCC vice president Minkir Lollen stated, “The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a weapon to push ahead the RSS ideology of converting the non-Hindu dominated areas in the country into Hindu dominated ones by bringing in and settling the Hindu refugees from Bangladesh. And this Bill is introduced at a time when the State of Arunachal is already under the serious threat of Chakma-Hajong and Tibetan refugees.”

He said that the Bill, if passed, would reduce the indigenous tribal people of our region into minorities.

“The Congress party in the State will henceforth fight for the amendment of Arunachal Statehood Act 1986 and appeal(s) all other political parties, NGOs, civil societies, and intellectuals in the State for equal participation on achievement of both these issues – opposing the Citizenship Bill and the amendment of Arunachal Statehood Act, 1986,” Lollen said.

Taking a dig at the State MPs – including MoS for Home Kiren Rijiju (BJP) and Congress’s Ninong Ering and Mukut Mithi for allegedly keeping quiet on this burning subject, the APCC vice president quizzed: “Where were they when this draconian Bill was placed in the Parliament,” adding, “They must take a tough stand on this issue by opposing it or else resign from their posts.”
PPA leader Kaling Jerang while accusing the Chief Minister Pema Khandu of making “no comment” on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill during Thursday’s Cabinet meeting said: “The inconspicuous silence of the governmnet and its party executives on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill issue is intriguing. It is for everybody to know that even the Meghalaya Governmnet with BJP as an ally in the State, its Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has been very vocal in his stiff opposition against the Bill and the decision to oppose it was done through a Cabinet meeting. So what is that compelling reason that shuts the mouth of the Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh? The Bill is tricky and perilous as Arunachal and other Northeastern States are surrounded by Bangladesh, Nepal, China, and Myanmar.

According to the amendment of the Citizenship Bill, any refugees staying in India for six years will become an Indian citizen. “And this will undoubtedly have an ‘annihilating’ and ‘de-tribalising’ effects on our State, which is otherwise a constitutionally protected tribal State,” Jerang said.

The Bill also proposes to reduce the stay of the refugees in India from 11 years to 6 years now to be a recognized citizen. There is no doubt in the fact that the people in the State are vehemently against settlement of any refugees in the State. “Now, the onus lies purely on the State government to take a tough stand in saying big “No” to the implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.”

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Ankur Kalita