Amit Shah holds meet with NE CMs, civil society on CAB

Union Home Minister Amit Shah. PTI file photo

 In indications that the BJP-led Centre is moving ahead with bringing the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill in the ongoing Parliament Session, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Saturday held discussions with leaders of political parties, students organisations and civil society groups from Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya on the contours of the proposed legislation.

Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam), Pema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh) and Conrad Sangma (Meghalaya), Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and a number of MPs met Shah, who wanted to allay apprehensions raised in the north-east. On Friday, the Minister held meetings with delegations from Tripura and Mizoram.

"This is a very honest and democratic approach of taking along every section of people of the Northeast. I am sure those who have attended the meetings with the home minister felt assured of the central government's commitments towards the region," Sonawal was quoted by PTI as saying.

Almost all the north-east states are against the Bill, as they apprehend that it could affect the population profile of these areas and particularly have a negative impact on tribals.

Sources said Shah has indicated to those who raised concern that the Bill will not have an impact on the tribal areas protected by the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime and areas which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution. People from other states need ILP to visit Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram while the Sixth Schedule deals with the administration of tribal areas Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

These areas may be exempted from the Bill. Already, a dozen non-BJP MPs have shot off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking to exclude north-east states from the purview of the Bill, saying it could make the tribal population vulnerable to displacement.

The bill to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 proposes to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don't possess proper documents.

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