Arunachal Pradesh, Assam CMs defend Citizenship Bill

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu has joined his Assam counterpart Sarbananda Sonowal in defending the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and said “people with vested interests” have been misinterpreting it to create confusion. Mr. Khandu heads a Bharatiya Janata Party government in Arunachal Pradesh, while Mr. Sonowal leads a coalition government with the BJP being the major player. “Some people with vested interests are opposing the Bill with misinterpretations creating confusions among the people that it will have a negative impact upon us. This is not true; rather, the Bill will help us in rebuilding a balanced demography of the region,” Mr. Khandu said in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Kameng district on Sunday. “I am sure it (Citizenship Bill) will not harm us as we are safe from any kind of infiltrators due to the Inner Line Permit (ILP) mechanism,” Mr. Khandu said. Anyone entering Arunachal Pradesh from elsewhere in India requires an ILP as mandated by the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act of 1873. Various organisations, including the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, have been protesting the Bill. They say it would make thousands of Chakma and Hajong refugees displaced from Bangladesh and Tibetans from China eligible for citizenship in the frontier State. On Sunday at Banderdewa on the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border, Mr. Sonowal insisted that the BJP government had made all possible efforts to safeguard the interests of the indigenous people. “Certain organisations have unleashed a misinformation campaign about the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” he said. ‘Clause 6 key’ Earlier, in central Assam’s Morigaon district, Mr. Sonowal said: “The Bill will only allow the people who have entered India before December 31, 2014 to apply for citizenship after a seven-year-long stay in India. And mere application won’t grant them citizenship. They have to prove they have lived for seven years in India and they were persecuted in those countries.” Mr. Sonowal also said no government at the Centre before the one led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi made any tangible effort to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord of 1983 for safeguarding constitutional, legislative, and administrative interests of the indigenous people of the State.

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