Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Tuesday expressed disappointment that Sikkim was not excluded from the ambit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, unlike several other states in the north-east.
Footballer turned politician Bhutia, is the working president of Hamro Sikkim Party, said the legislation will dilute special provisions of the Himalayan state that it enjoys under Article 371F of the Constitution.
He asked the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha-led government to press for implementing Inner Line Permit in the state and quit the NDA in protest against the passage of the bill.
The legislation that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who are fleeing persecution there, was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311-80 votes.
“We are deeply disappointed with the CAB. The Bill has not excluded Sikkim compared to other north-east states like Nagaland, Meghalaya and a few others. We wanted Sikkim also be mentioned in writing on the bill like other north-east states,” Bhutia said in a Facebook post.
He said, though Home Minister Amit Shah mentioned in the house that the legislation will not have any effect on states enjoying special status Under Article 371, the legal provision is different from Article 371F.
“This bill is surely a way of diluting Article 371F in long run,” the former Indian football team captain Bhutia said after apparent efforts by Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang and the state’s only Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba failed in keeping Sikkim out of the CAB’s ambit.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan if they faced religious persecution there. They will be given Indian citizenship after residing in the country for five years, instead of 11 years which is the current norm.
Indigenous people of the Northeastern states are scared that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood. Various organisations of the region have launched a series of agitations against the Bill.
Parties and organisations such as the Congress, AIUDF, All Assam Students Union, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, All Arunachal Pradesh Students” Union, Khasi Students Union and the Naga Students Federation are backing the NESO to observe the bandh.
A total of 16 organizations such as the SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF, AISA and the IPTA has also called a 12-hour bandh in Assam, coinciding with the NESO-organised shutdown.
After the CAB was passed in Lok Sabha at 12.02 am on Tuesday, the 11-hour shutdown called by an umbrella body of students’ organisations in the north-east to protest against the Bill began at 5 am today. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), backed by other organisations and political parties observed the shutdown till 4 pm against the bill that was passed in the Lok Sabha.
The Manipur People Against CAB (Manpac), which was spearheading the agitation in the state, has announced suspension of its stir on Monday, after Union Home Minister Amit Shah said the to be brought under Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime.
The Bill would not be applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where the ILP system exists and those tribal regions of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.