Citizenship Bill Protest

Itanagar, Feb 08 (PTI) Opposing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, a tribal forum in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday demanded that the state be exempted from its purview as it is contrary to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873.

The Arunachal Indigenous Tribal Forum (AITF), a conglomerate of various community-based organisations of the state, termed the Bill as “anti-tribal, anti-Arunachalee and monstrous” which would “eat up” the indigenous population of the state in the long run.

“The state is already plagued with the Chakma-Hajong refugee issue. The implementation of the Citizenship Bill in the state will pave way for automatic citizenship to the refugees besides increasing influx,” AITF President Bengia Tolum told reporters here.

The Chakmas, Buddhist by faith and the Hajongs, Hindus by faith, were originally residents of the Chittagong Hill Tracts of former East Pakistan, who fled to India following religious persecution in the 1960s. A large number of Chakma and Hajong refugees who are staying in Arunachal Pradesh for over 50 years, are likely to get Indian citizenship if the Bill is enacted.

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union, the state’s largest student body, has been demanding their ouster from the state since 1990.

The AITF had organised a peaceful car rally here against the controversial bill on February 2.

Tolum said that a AITF delegation had held a detailed discussion with Chief Minister Pema Khandu on Thursday and explained to him the overall impact of the Bill in the state with reference to the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873.

Arunachal Pradesh is protected under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873, and all Indian citizens need to obtain inner line permit to visit the state.

The chief minister has assured that the state government will convey the sentiments of the people to the Centre, Tolum said adding the union home ministry has called for a joint meeting of all the chief ministers of the north east states on February 11 for consultation on the Bill.

The AITF also opposed the granting of Permanent Residence Certificate (PRC) to six non-Arunachalee communities residing in the state and suggested that the on-going updation of the National Register of Citizens be first completed in Assam before grant it.

The NRC, it said, would legally segregate the floating population of non-Arunachalees in the state, it said and suggested that detailed discussion on the PRC issue be held with all community based organisations of the state before taking any decision.

The non-indigenous should not be granted Arunachal Pradesh Scheduled Tribe status, not allowed to purchase land, continue to have ILP under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873. Proper legislation to this effect should be made in the state assembly for protection of the indigenous population, Tolum demanded.

~PTI News

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