NE people to be consulted before bringing up citizenship bill: Kiren Rijiju
Itanagar, Apr 9: A day after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) promised in its election manifesto to enact the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill if voted back to power, Union minister Kiren Rijiju said on Tuesday people of the northeastern states will be consulted before bringing up the bill. Even if the bill is implemented in the rest of the country, there will be special provisions for the region, Rijiju said.
The contentious bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess proper documents.
A largescale protest had broken out in the northeastern states earlier this year as the indigenous people of the region apprehended the enactment of the bill would endanger their livelihood and identity. "If other states of the country want the bill to be enacted, the BJP is committed to bring it. However, for the northeast, the party will consult the people before taking any decision which is clearly mentioned in the manifesto," the minister of state for home told reporters here. "There should be no doubt among the people of the region, the BJP is committed to protect their rights," Rijiju said.
The bill, being vehemently opposed in the region even by some allies of BJP, was passed in Lok Sabha on January 8. However, it is set to lapse on June 3, when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends, as it could not be passed in Rajya Sabha.
The Union Minister, who is seeking re-election from Arunachal West parliamentary constituency, said no other dispensation had attached so much importance to the Northeast as the NDA government. Even Indians of other states cannot settle in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram that are 'protected' under special provisions of the Constitution, he said. However, for other 'unprotected' states of the region such as Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Tripura, the government has decided to introduce the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in which only genuine Indian citizens would be included, he said.
With introduction of the NRC, refugees who have already settled in the region due to religious persecution will be examined under special provisions, Rijiju said.
In its manifesto released on Monday in New Delhi, the BJP promised to implement the NRC, currently underway only in Assam, in a phased manner in other parts of the country. "Being a representative of the Northeast, it is my duty to think of the people of the region and I assure them that the BJP will protect their culture, traditions and languages," he added.
On the contentious Permanent Resident Certificate (PRC) issue in Arunachal Pradesh, which left three people dead and private and public properties damaged in February, Rijiju claimed that people have already realised who were responsible for the violence.
"The people have also realised the mission of the BJP. It is committed to peace, progress and development," Rijiju said adding that the party would work for a "clean election" drive in the state after coming to power. "Clean election is the hallmark of clean governance. We will try to make election clean without involvement of cash for a better Arunachal," he added.
Asked about the seizure of Rs 1.8 crore in cash from two vehicles at Pasighat in East Siang district on April 2 on the eve of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally there, Rijiju said the truth will come out after investigation by the Election Commission. The vehicles were parked at a guest house along with the vehicles of the Chief Minister and he was not in any way involved in the incident, he said.