NESO opposes amendment of Citizenship Act, warns of agitation

Shillong, Nov 18: The North East Student”s Organisation (NESO) on Monday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, reiterating its strong opposition to the proposed amendment of the Citizenship Act, 1955 during the winter session of Parliament which began on Monday.

The apex student”s body of the indigenous student groups across the seven Northeastern states cautioned the central government that “such an undesirable step by Parliament will once again agitate the entire North East region.”

On Monday, several students” bodies and other civil society groups staged a protest in their respective state”s capital opposing the proposed amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure but could not push it through due to vehement protests by opposition parties and it lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.

The bill seeks to remove hurdles in the way of eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship.

“We oppose the objective of the Bill and it should not be adopted by Parliament under any circumstances. Such an undesirable step by Parliament will once again agitate the entire North East region. We all have a responsibility to avoid such a potentiality,” the NESO letter noted.

However, the apex student”s body demanded the introduction of the Inner Line Permit system across the Northeastern states, implementation of the National Register of Citizens with a Base Year for each states and constitutional safeguards for the people of North East states that must delegate vast federal authority including the right over land and its natural resources.

Informing the Prime Minister and Home Minister that the North East region is infested with foreigners from the erstwhile East Pakistan and now, Bangladesh, NESO alleged that “politicians have supported them which threaten the identity of the indigenous peoples of the region.”

“All the states of the region have suffered badly due to the illegal flow of the foreigners without any hindrance.”

Noting that many states of the North East have taken the load of Hindu refugees who migrated due to the Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, the student”s body said, “This Citizen (Amendment) Bill is again an attempt to impose the burden of the post-1971 Hindu Bangladeshis in the entire North East region which is not justified to say the least and North East is not a dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis and to us… a foreigner is a foreigner irrespective of his religion.

“It should be common sense that the proposed Bill will defeat the very purpose of signing the Assam Accord. The NESO fully supported signing of the Assam Accord by the All Assam Students” Union setting 25th March 1971 as the cut off year for detection and deportation of the foreigners from Assam,” the letter stated.