The bill amends laws to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution from the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014
A day-long shutdown was held on January 8 across the Northeast against The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government pushed the bill through Lok Sabha. Protests were held across Assam.
The bill amends laws to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution from the three neighbouring countries and entered India before December 31, 2014.
Some of the allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also opposed the bill. The Congress and the Left Front said that the law is fundamental against the Constitution. Critics fear that migrants may pose cultural and linguistic threat to the community.
However, in Bengali-dominated areas like the Barak valley, most people welcome the bill as they hope it will safeguard them from the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The draft NRC had left out around 40 lakh people who face possible deportation.
The Bengali-speaking Muslims who are form the majority in districts in central and western Assam, are against the proposal to offer citizenship only to non-Muslim migrants.
BJP allies such as the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), opponents such as the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), and 70 other indigenous outfits have launched a campaign against the bill.
Other Northeastern states have taken a mixed stand towards the bill. Bengali-majority Tripura is partially against the bill.
Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram where BJP allies are in power, want the bill to be reviewed before passing.
People in Mizoram fear that the Buddhists Chakmas from Bangladesh will take advantage of the Act. Whereas, people in Meghalaya and Nagaland are apprehensive of Bengali migrants.
Arunachal Pradesh, which is governed by the BJP, fears that the law would benefit Chakmas and Tibetans.
The Manipur government wants to setup an Inner Line Permit System to stop migrants from entering the state. The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura and the opposition Indigenous National party of Tripura are against the bill.The BJP is however confident to get Hindu and tribal votes by granting tribal status and implementing Clause 6 of the Assam Accord- 1986 which is aimed at granting constitutional safeguard to Assamese.