Guwahati, Sept 10: Putting at rest the fears and apprehensions expressed by the Chief Ministers of North-Eastern States on proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) Union Home Minister Amit Shah Monday categorically assured them that the proposed CAB will not in any way override the existing provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, the Inner Line Permit (ILP) and the state specific acts such as Meghalaya Residents Safety and Security Act.
Shah was interacting with the chief ministers of all the 8 states of the region including Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura on Monday participating in the 4th convention of North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
Informing the scribes about the meeting Assam Minister and Convener of NEDA Himanta Biswa Sarma said that Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma particularly raised the issue of CAB and its repercussions on the state’s act and also the status of Sixth Schedule that grants autonomy to the region.
Sangma wanted to know whether the CAB will have any cut-off date for granting citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Jains and Christian population of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan staying in India.
Sarma further said that Chief Ministers of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland Pema Khandu and Neiphiu Rio wanted to know about the effects of CAB on Article 371 and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system applicable to their states and Mizoram also.
Clarifying the position on cut-off date, Shah said that the CAB will have a cut-off date of 31st December 2014. That is the CAB will be only for those who have come until that date, he clarified.
On the issue of ILP the Home Minister said that the ILP applicable in states of Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland will not be affected by the proposed CAB. “All the regulations and state acts enacted for protecting the cultural, linguistic and other rights of the people of north-eastern region will not get diluted by the provisions of the CAB”, Shah categorically emphasized.
It may be mentioned that the Inner Line Permit (ILP) is a special permit required by the people from other provinces of India to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland. This provision was based on the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation Act 1873.
Shah also allayed the fears on Article 371 against the background of abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir. “There is only one similarity and that the Article 371 comes after Article 370”, shah said, adding that Article 370 was a ‘temporary’ provision while 371 was a special provision aimed at protecting the culture, tradition, language of the people. “The CAB will not touch this special provision and the government will definitely take care about that”, he said.
Against the background of the NRC exercise carried out in Assam on a large scale the Chief Ministers discussed the CAB issue threadbare at the NEDA conclave. They were satisfied by the assurances of the Union Home Minister and said that they would discuss the CAB will all the stakehodlers in the respective states and meet Amit Shah soon.