From A Correspondent
Shillong, Oct 2: The North East Indigenous People’s Forum (NEIPF), a conglomerate of various NGOs and former militants of the Northeast, on Monday resolved to fight tooth and il to protect and preserve the rights of the indigenous people of the region.
ULFA’s former general secretary Anup Chetia is convener of this forum.
It may be mentioned that the NEIPF was formed during a regiol-level conference in Guwahati held on 6th and 7th September.
After a meeting held here on Monday, forum spokesperson M Ibungochoubi informed media persons that the NEIPF discussed the issue of porous intertiol borders in the Northeast.
According to Ibungochoubi, the region shares approximately 5,500 km of border with Chi, Myanmar, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
“These borders are unmanned and porous and are not systematically checked, raising concern over influx of illegal immigrants thereby endangering the indigenous population who may become minorities in their homelands,” the NEIPF spokesperson said.
Ibungochoubi also pointed out that if there are any conflicts in the neighbouring countries the States of the region are the first to be affected even as he said that the Rohingya conflict in Myanmar and also during the 1971 war in Bangladesh the region had to bear the brunt of illegal immigrants.
He said that each State of the Northeast has its own inherent issues and the forum will highlight them and will act as the collective forum for each of them.
The NEIPF leader said the meeting held here also discussed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. According to Ibungochoubi, the forum would strongly oppose the Bill, “if there is anything objectioble and against the interests of the indigenous people” of the region.
The Bill aims at granting Indian citizenship to immigrants belonging to minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Concerned over losing economic rights by the indigenous people of the region to illegal immigrants and those coming from other parts of the country, Ibungochoubi maintained that the locals should also have an equal share in economic development of the Northeast.
The NEIPF also called upon the political leaders of the region to be “strong and committed” so as to protect their own people.
Ibungochoubi said the forum has taken “strong exception” to the decision of granting citizenship status to the Chakmas and Hajongs residing in Aruchal Pradesh.