Taking into consideration the concerns of Northeastern states, the inner line permit areas of Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram and regions under the Sixth Schedule in the North East have been exempted from the Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.
This means that beneficiaries under CAB will become Indian citizens but will not be able to settle in Arunachal, Nagaland and Mizoram. As a matter of fact, the same restriction applies to existing Indian citizens.
At the same time, a large part of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura will be out of the purview of the contentious bill due to them being under Sixth Schedule areas.
“Nothing in this section shall apply to Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, and to the areas covered under the inner line notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873,” the Bill mentions.
The Citizenship Bill seeks to amend The Citizenship Act, 1955 to make Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship of India.
The existing Act allows an immigrant to apply for citizenship if s/he has lived in India for 12 months immediately before the application, and for 11 of the last 14 years. The amendment relaxes the second requirement from 11 years to 6 years as a specific condition for applicants belonging to these six religions, and the aforementioned three countries.
The Bill, which had lapsed in the previous term of the Modi government due to massive protests in Rajya Sabha, is expected to be taken up in Parliament next week.
On Saturday, when political and civil society representatives from the Northeastern states met Union Home Minister Amit Shah to express their concerns about the Bill, he had assured them that the Bill would provide protection to such regions and states where the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is applicable, and autonomous administration has been granted under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland are not among those drastically affected by migration from Bangladesh. Mizoram shares a border with Bangladesh. The three states that have seen the highest migration, however, are Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, none of which has an ILP system.