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CAB impasse

CAB impasse

While the Centre continues to be confident of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), currently stuck in Rajya Sabha, it must pay heed to the commotion that has still not subsided. North-East has offered acute dissent over the contentious Bill which they believe will nullify the provisions of the historic Assam Accord. The religion-based Bill, aimed at providing citizenship to non-Muslims who have been forced to seek shelter in India due to fear of religious persecution in their home countries, has made Assam and the rest of North-East restive. While the Centre asserts that the burden of these persecuted migrants from the east and west corridors of the country must be shared by the entire country and not just Assam, the resistance opines on how the interest of Assam's indigenous people was not accounted for. The Centre is further considering incentivising people who wish to settle outside North-East. In a clarification on the Bill, Ministry of Home Affairs said that foreigners would not be granted Indian citizenship without the consent of concerned state governments. An exercise such as CAB not only pokes NRC but also contradicts the Assam Accord. While Assam still has not come clean with the NRC situation, it has been further burdened with CAB. Asom Gana Parishad emphasised that regional interests hold more importance than the larger scheme of events, as it walked out of the ruling state coalition. Opposing the religion-based differential treatment that is to be provided to the illegal migrants, Assamese fear that CAB will make them a minority in their own land. Bringing down the 12-year minimum stay proviso to seven is a drastic change. While the Centre advocates these provisions of CAB as a massive relief to migrants, it has blatantly ignored the difference in opinion of those who had abided by the earlier norms – Assam Accord had fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal migrants irrespective of religion. The pertinent question lies in whether pushing CAB and implementing it against the wishes of the North-East is worth the trouble. Further, amending the Citizenship Act without including Muslims does not match the secular fabric of the nation. North-East has seen enough insurgency to realise the depth of illegal migrants and debate over citizenship. Resolving the debate with CAB is, perhaps, adding fuel to fire. As the ruling party hopes to yield from it with Lok Sabha elections drawing near – the impasse continues.

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