NPF questions Rio’s ‘contradictory statements’ on citizenship bill

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HT Correspondent

Dimapur, Jan 10: The Naga People’s Front (NPF) Legislature Party accused Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio of making “contradictory statements” on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

NPF Legislature Party spokesperson Imkong L Imchen, in a release on Thursday, pointed out that Rio during a sitting of the Nagaland cabinet, held to deliberate on the bill earlier, said they would not oppose the bill since Nagaland is protected under Article 371 (A) of the Constitution and Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation of 1873 (Inner Line Permit).

Rio even took his team of cabinet to New Delhi to meet Union Home minister Rajnath Singh and categorically told him that he would not oppose the bill, the release alleged.

It said the NPF downrightly rejected this and demanded that the Nagaland government oppose the bill as the state is vulnerable vis-à-vis the illegal immigrants and the repercussions of this controversial bill would be disastrous to the future of Nagas.

The NPF, with genuine concern for the welfare and future of the Nagas, has in the last few days raised this issue again, Imchen said.

Subsequently, the PDA government had a cabinet meeting on January 7 to once again deliberate on the issue. However, he said, disappointingly the decision of the cabinet was “to urge the Centre to re-examine and review” the controversial bill.

Imchen said no mention was made as in what form to “re-examine and review” as the bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha.

“One moment, the chief minister says we are protected and will not oppose the Bill, next he goes on to say that if it goes against the interest of the Nagas,” Imchen wondered.

“Would the chief minister, for once, assuredly state as to what is the stand of the PDA government?” he asked.

The release also said the NPF sought to raise this issue in the 2nd session of the Assembly and accordingly the subject was listed in the Business list of the day but “bizarrely, the Speaker of the House refused to let the NPF MLAs to delve on this subject”.

Leader of NPF Legislature Party T.R. Zeliang had written a letter to the chief minister on the subject on July 16 last year seeking clarification on the stand of PDA government.

While the Naga populace is crying politically or otherwise to defend its integrity and identity at any cost, the Centre has brought about a legal passage for the illegal immigrants to swarm the Northeastern states and in particular Nagaland, the Opposition party said.

“The much talked about article 371(A) of the Constitution of India shall also become redundant should this bill be passed and becomes a law,” the release stated.

“When the whole of Northeastern states are burning and crying for remedy to this Bill, the Nagaland government is playing dumb and deaf which is setting a bad precedent and will go down in the history book for the younger generation to read of the betrayal and stoic attitude which this PDA government maintained when it had the opportunity to do something about it today,” the release added.

In the meantime, the Nagaland Tribes Council has questioned the wisdom of the PDA government’s soft peddling on the bill.

In a release on Thursday, the NTC sought to know whether the government of the day understands the very purpose and the language of the bill. It also wondered whether the government understands its ramification.

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