NEW DELHI: Amid ongoing protests over the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in several north-eastern states, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will soon meet the chief ministers of these states to discuss protection of rights and people’s interests.
According to reports, the Home Minister said this after following separate meetings with different delegations headed by Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal last week.
“Rajnath Singh assured the delegations that the interests of all north-eastern states, including Manipur and Assam, and their culture and heritage will be fully protected. He will call a meeting of all the Chief Ministers,” a statement from the Home Ministry said.
People from Manipur, Meghalaya and Assam have taken to streets after the Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in both Houses of Parliament in the Winter Session. The bill aims to remove hurdles for eligible migrants of six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship.
Biren Singh met Rajnath Singh on Saturday along with Manipur BJP president and Rajya Sabha MP Ksh. Bhabananda Singh and submitted a memorandum to him for giving Presidential assent to Manipur People’s (Protection) Bill, 2018, passed by the Manipur Assembly on July 23, 2018.
The proposed Citizenship Bill has triggered apprehension in the region that it will not be in the interest of the indigenous people of North-East. Various North-East parties and students’ bodies have been claiming that once the Bill is implemented, the northeastern states could be flooded with a large number of illegal immigrants and foreigners from neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Myanmar and so on, as international borders are porous.
Several representatives of the Bodo groups including the Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Muhilary also met the Home Minister over the weekend and discussed the various outstanding demands of the BODO community.
Rajnath Singh said while introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8, he had made it clear that the Bill is not meant for the individuals belonging to six minorities who have come from one particular country. “It is also not meant for individuals who are living in one particular state.”
The Home Minister said it is a fact that Assam has borne the disproportionate burden of migration, but the state should not bear this burden alone. “It is the responsibility of the entire country and the burden should also be shared by the entire country,” he added.
The Home Minister said the decision to grant tribal status to six communities – Tai Ahom, Tea, Koch Raj Bongshi, Chutia, Moran and Matak tribes – should also be seen in the same spirit.
He assured the BODO leaders that this decision will be implemented only after ensuring that the political and employment-related privileges and rights of the existing tribes in Assam are fully protected.