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BJP-led Manipur govt seeks exemption from Citizenship Bill’s purview, agitators hit streets


The BJP-led government in Manipur has decided to urge the Centre to exempt the state from the jurisdiction of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the latest voice from the north-east against the proposed legislation.

Protesters hit the streets against the bill on Friday.

Three persons, including a woman and a police officer, were injured in a clash between students, women vendors and the police at the Khwairamban Bazaar, the main market here, during a mass rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The police had to fire teargas shells to disperse the agitators, who joined the mass rally jointly organised by six students’ organisations and the women vendors of the Khwairamban Bazaar.

A police officer, who did not want to be quoted, told PTI that some unidentified student agitators threw mineral water bottles at the police personnel, in which a sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) got injured on his face and he was hospitalised.

Two injured civilians were also admitted to the RIMS hospital here as they were injured after the police lobbed teargas shells.

At a meeting chaired by Chief Minister N Biren Singh, the state cabinet on Thursday decided to appeal to the Centre to allow it not to implement the proposed legislation, which was recently passed by the Lok Sabha, a press release issued by the chief minister’s secretariat said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is heading a coalition government in the north-eastern state with the National People’s Party (NPP), the Naga People’s Front (NPF) and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP).

Hence, the reservation expressed by the BJP-led dispensation in the state against a bill proposed by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) assumes significance.

Many NDA constituents in the northeast — including the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam, the ruling Mizo National Front (MNF) in Mizoram, the NPP (heading a coalition government with the BJP in Meghalaya), the Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT, a partner in the Tripura government) and the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP, heading a coalition government with the BJP in Nagaland) — have already said they are not in agreement with the saffron party over the sensitive issue.

The AGP has even quit the alliance.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill provides for according Indian citizenship to the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014 after staying in the country for six years, instead of the current 12 years, even if they do not possess any documents.

The state cabinet also decided to urge the Centre and the authorities concerned to give assent to the Manipur Peoples’ (Protection) Bill, 2018, passed by the state Assembly, the press release added.

The state bill passed on July 23, 2018 defines Manipuris and non-Manipuris and seeks to regulate their entry and exit to protect the interests and identity of the indigenous people of the state.

According to the bill, “Manipuris” include the Meiteis, the Pangal Muslims, the Manipuri scheduled tribes listed under the Constitution and Indian nationals living in Manipur since before 1951.

Those who did not fall under this umbrella were deemed non-Manipuris and given a month to register themselves. Additionally, outsiders visiting the state would have to obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP), a system that is also in place in three other north-eastern states — Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

The Manipur unit of the Congress party is also against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. It has demanded the state government convene a session of the Assembly immediately to take a decision on it.


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