Manipur govt wants exemption from Citizenship Bill

Prime Minister Narendra Modi shakes hands with Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh during the launch of development projects, in Imphal, Friday, Jan 4, 2019. (PTI Photo)

BJP-led Manipur government has moved the Centre to exempt the state from the ambit of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to ally public fear that the state could be flooded with foreigners after its passage.

A meeting of Manipur cabinet chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Thursday also sought the Centre's nod to Manipur People's (Protection) Bill 2018 that seeks to regulate the entry of 'non-Manipuris' to Manipur. 

"There is apprehension among people that Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is not in the interest of the indigenous people. There is also a fear that once the bill is passed, the state could be flooded with a large number of illegal migrants and foreigners from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar as the international borders are porous.

Taking all this into consideration, the Cabinet has decided to seek the Centre's approval to the Manipur People's Protection Bill and exempt Manipur from its jurisdiction," a statement issued by Chief Minister's office said.

This comes amid widespread protests across the Northeast against the bill that seeks to offer citizenship to 'persecuted' non-Muslim migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, after a stay of six years. The same is 11 years at present. Organisations in the Northeast are opposed to the bill saying it would make large illegal Hindu migrants living in Assam Indian citizens and reduce the indigenous people into minority. The bill was passed by Lok Sabha on Wednesday but remains pending in the Rajya Sabha.

BJP-led Assam government defended the bill saying it is aimed at shielding Assam against the threat from illegal Bengali Muslim migrants. Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Wednesday said Bengali Muslims are a threat to the identity of Assamese, Hindu migrants are not.

Asom Gana Parishad, its regional ally in Assam pulled out of the alliance to protest the bill while allies in other states of the Northeast has also demanded its withdrawal. This has become a worry for BJP ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
 
Manipur Peoples (Protection) Bill 2018 also seeks to introduce inner line permit system, which is prevalent in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh to regulate entry of non-Manipuris. It was passed by the state Assembly but is awaiting the President's assent.

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