North East Forum for Indigenous People questions Centre for preferring foreigners to indigenous citizens

Shillong, Aug 9: The North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP) on Friday questioned the wisdom of the Centre’s decision to protect foreigners at the expense of indigenous citizens in the North East.

A memorandum seeking the intervention of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the matter was submitted by the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organizations (CoMSO), one of the constituents of the NEFIP through Governor, Tathagata Roy.

“(We) question the wisdom of the Union Government as to why it prefers foreigners to indigenous citizens in North East India as all these initiatives aimed at protecting the foreigners at the expense of the indigenous citizens who have live in their ancestral lands since time immemorial,” NEFIP said.

It said if the Citizenship Amendment Bill is enacted, it will create demographic imbalance to the already fragile indigenous population and pose grave danger to very existence of the indigenous people of NE as a whole irrespective of the size of the population of the communities.

Pointing out the reasons for objecting the Bill, the Forum said the Bill violates Article 14 of the Constitution as also the Preamble of the Constitution of India.

“Such a Bill shall have severe impacts on the ongoing process of the NRC monitored by the Supreme

Court as the crucial dates of reference to recognize an immigrant for naturalization are different. It negates the section 6A in the Citizenship Act, 1955 introduced in pursuance to the Assam Accord of 1985 and shall jeopardize the whole exercise already carried out,” it said.

According to them, it will be incorrect to assume that all illegal immigrants who profess these three faiths have entered India surreptitiously are due to persecution on the ground of religion in their home country, as most of them are economic migrants.

Stating that although assurances given by the BJP leaders that the Bill will not harm the indigenous people’s economic, traditional and cultural interest, the Forum said however the fact remains even now almost 80 percent of the economy is controlled by Non- Indigenous inhabitants of the region so to further add Non-indigenous population will not only aggravate the already marginalized indigenous population but supplant the local population to the point of extinction.

It has been argued that the State Government cannot be bypassed for process for naturalization, this being true however a person that is not recommended for naturalization in a state can apply for naturalization from another state and become a citizen of India, thus there is no way to stop them.

In such case, a State can allow millions of foreigners to become Indians who cannot be denied entry into any State hence.

“At the moment, it is estimated that there are 4 million illegal immigrants in Assam who cannot be granted citizenship under NRC. Whereas, when CAB is enacted these foreigners will be easily accommodated as legal citizens under one pretext or other, this shall further worsen the present demographic crisis,” the Forum said.

The NEFIP has also expressed concern over the two Notifications of 7th September, 2015 vide No.GSR685(E) by which the Passport (Entry into India) Rules of 1950 was amended whereby those foreigners from the said three countries who had entered into India by 31st December, 2014 are legalized. The second Notification vide No.GSR686(E) amended the Foreigners Orders of 1948 by which the restrictive rules are relaxed for these illegal immigrants are nothing but the forerunner of the CAB.

“These relaxations of the laws are found detrimental to the interests of the indigenous people of the NE India,” it stated.