Manipur asks protection before passing Citizenship bill

Manipur asks protection before passing 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 insisted for the Centre's nod to Manipur People's (Protection) Bill 2018 before passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh said there was no change in the state's stand that the Centre should give its assent to the Manipur bill to protect the interest of the indigenous people.

Manipur People's (Protection) Bill 2018 that seeks to regulate the entry of non-Manipuris into Manipur was passed by the state Assembly last year and forwarded to the President for his assent.

"The government understands the need for a mechanism to protect the identity of indigenous people of the state. So there is no change in the state government's stand on the insistence for Centre's assent to our bill before the Citizenship bill is passed," Singh said at a function in Imphal on Sunday.

Singh's statement comes amid a strong agitation in Manipur by various organisations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019. Many fears that it would invite more migration from neighbouring countries as it seeks to allow migrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who came to India till December 2014 due to religious persecution, to apply for citizenship after a stay of six years.

Indigenous people fear that their ethnic identity would be threatened if 'illegal migrants' already living in the Northeast are given citizenship.

Singh had earlier met home minister Rajnath Singh with a request that Manipur should be exempted from the purview of the Citizenship bill. He said there was a strong apprehension among people that passage of the bill would encourage more illegal migration from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Pakistan through the open stretches of the borders in the Northeast.