New Citizenship Bill will satisfy people’s concerns: Himanta

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BJP starts consultation with stakeholders for re-introduction of CAB

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Sept 24: Reiterating that the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will be moved in Parliament in the forthcoming session in November, Assam finance minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the new draft of the Bill will satisfy the concerns of the people of Assam and Northeast on Tuesday.

“The new Bill will largely satisfy the concerns of the people of the Assam and Northeast that their culture and language will be affected,” Sarma told reporters in the sidelines of a programme at NEDFi haat here. He said the BJP has already started the process of consultation with the stakeholders in the region.

“The process of holding consultation has already started and several top BJP leaders will be here in Assam before November to interact with people and organisations about the Bill,” Sarma added.

“The new Bill will neither override the provisions of Article 371 and the Sixth Schedule nor will it affect the existing laws protecting the tribal culture, language and their ethnicity,” Sarma, who is also the convener of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) said.

Sarma said his party has already started the process of consultation with different stakeholders in the region over the Bill. Sarma added that the Bill is also not going to affect the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system which has been in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

“In the northeastern states, there are many state laws which are protecting the tribals, their language and culture. The new Bill which is being planned by the Centre, is not going to affect any of them,” he said. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was moved by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), got elapsed after the ruling party failed to pass it in Rajya Sabha.

The BJP, after coming back to power earlier this year, announced that it is going to bring the Bill back. “Senior BJP leaders have started visiting the Northeast and meeting different stakeholders. More senior BJP leaders are likely to come here during next one month’s time so that the consultation could be completed before the next session of Parliament,” he said.

Saying that the BJP is not happy with the recently published National Register of Citizens (NRC) list, the minister said there is a strong case for review and the government will approach the Supreme Court for reviewing the whole NRC process.

The BJP-led government in Assam had earlier petitioned the Supreme Court seeking a re-verification of the people included in the draft NRC, which was turned down by the apex court. “I believe that the NRC will go to Supreme Court now who will either send it to the RGI or to the state coordinator. Once it is notified then only the 120 days period will start for filing fresh claims,” he added.

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