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After Assam, citizenship bill stir spreads to Meghalaya

THE ASIAN AGE. | MANOJ ANAND
Published : May 10, 2018, 2:49 am IST
Updated : May 10, 2018, 6:17 am IST

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma (Photo: ANI)
 Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma (Photo: ANI)

Guwahati: A day before the visit of the Joint Parliamentary Committee, the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, in which the BJP is also a partner, decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendm-ent) Bill 2016, proposed by the BJP-led NDA to make migrants of six communities eligible for citizenship of India.

The decision was taken at a Cabinet meeting chaired by chief minister Conrad K. Sangma ahead of the visit of the JPC to solicit views from the state government and stakeholders.

The proposed amendment and visit of the JPC has already surcharged the atmosphere of Assam where hundreds of organisation and stakeholders have submitted their representation to the JPC opposing and supporting the bill. However, Cabinet resolution of Meghalaya government has also come as serious embarrassment for the BJP led alliance government in Assam. The Opposition Congress on Wednesday questioned the silence of the BJP leaders in Assam. Referring instances of Meghalaya, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi dared Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his deputy Himanata Biswa Sarma to clarify the stand of the government on proposed amendment bill.

Joining growing opposition to the bill, the leading minority organisations of the state like All-Assam Minority Students’ Union and other associates of All-India United Democratic Front led by MP Badrudddin Ajmal, also opposed the bill while accusing the Central government of triggering communal polarisation in Assam.

Clarifying the stand of the Meghalaya government on proposed amendment bill, the deputy chief minister and spokesperson of the state government Mr Prestone Tyns-ong said, “We have seen the draft bill introduced in the Parliament and after thorough discussion, we have decided to say ‘No’ to the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.”

The Citizenship (Amend-ment) Bill, 2016, was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

The proposed bill seeks to grant citizenship to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christi-ans — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.

Mr Tynsong said the state cabinet has decided to oppose the Bill as it does not serve the purpose of the people of the state, which is a small tribal one.

He said that the Bill is “dangerous” taking into consideration that Meghalaya and the north eastern region is bound by Bangladesh, Nepal, China and Myanmar.

“This looks dangerous as a Christian or a Hindu once they are here for six years can become a citizen of India,” he added.

Meanwhile, NGOs in the state, including the Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), has decided to stage a protest during the visit of the JPC.

Tags: conrad sangma, meghalaya government