Aizawl, Oct 7 (IANS) Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent visit to Mizoram has “marginally subdued the core issue of the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) but antagonism against the CAB remains as an undercurrent”, according to a political analyst here on Monday.
During his day-long visit to Mizoram on Saturday, the Union Home Minister sought to highlight developmental issues to cool the temperature on crucial issues like the CAB, infiltration of people from Bangladesh, and the border dispute with Assam.
“Following the assurances of Amit Shah, Mizo society will wait, watch and study the redrafted CAB before its circulation to all the stakeholders and its tabling in the Parliament in November,” noted political analyst Laldinliana Sailo told IANS.
“The Central government should first understand the sentiments of the indigenous people of Northeast India and their core long-pending issues before dealing the new issues like CAB. The issue of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) also remains unresolved in most parts of Northeast, including Assam,” he said.
During his visit, Shah held meetings with Governor Jagdish Mukhi, Chief Minister Zoramthanga, top officials and the NGO Coordination Committee (NCC) on various issues, including the CAB.
The NCC, led by the influential Young Mizo Association (YMA), had called for a protest rally against the CAB during Shah’s visit. A day before the Home Minister’s visit to Mizoram, however, the NCC withdraw its plan after Shah assured a discussion on the CAB.
According to an NCC leader, the meeting with Shah was “very cordial”.
“Shah heard us and assured that the redrafted CAB would be shared with the NCC and other concerned parties. Shah told us he would address our concerns and the Inner Line Permit (ILP) would be incorporated in the CAB,” the NCC leader said on condition of anonymity.
The NCC has also submitted a memorandum to the Home Minister. Two local parties — the Peoples Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) and the Mizoram People’s Conference –, however, held protests against the CAB in Aizawl on Saturday.
A top official of the Mizoram Home Department said that the NCC leaders were advised to draft a special clause to be incorporated in the CAB wherein the ILP provisions are strengthened in the Northeastern states, thus effectively, acting as a buffer to the CAB in these states.
“Chief Minister Zoramthanga also raised the CAB issue with the Union Home Minister,” the official told IANS on Monday refusing to disclose his identity.
The ILP currently being enforced in Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, restricts entry and movement of outsiders to these states.
The CAB seeks to fast-track Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Parsis, Christians and Jains from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who entered India till December 31, 2014.
In a memorandum to Shah, the Mizoram unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urged him to resolve the Mizoram-Assam border dispute, improve road connectivity with neighbouring Myanmar and Bangladesh, speedy commissioning of the 700 MW Kaladan hydro power project and completion of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit and Transport Project being implemented in Myanmar with Indian government investment.
Speaking to IANS, BJP Mizoram unit chief J.V. Hluna said: “Shah assured us he would look into the issues on a merit basis. We have also urged him to complete the fencing along India-Bangladesh border with Mizoram on a war footing.”
The Home Minister, who came to Aizawl to organised by the North Eastern Council (NEC), did not refer a single word about CAB and NRC in his speech during the inaugural function.
Shah referred about the under construction 60 MW Tuirial hydro-electric power project, expressed confidence that by 2021, state capital Aizawl would be connected by broad-gauge railway lines.
Inaugurating the Northeast Handloom and Handicraft Exhibition here on Saturday, Shah said: “The Kaladan multi-modal waterway and establishing of new ‘border haats’ (markets) would bring huge opportunities of trade and commerce to Mizoram. Under construction greater Aizawl water project, state referral hospital, state sports academy, horticulture colleges and a cricket stadium would benefit the people of Mizoram.”
The Chief Ministers of Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland and their parties, constituents of the BJP-led (North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), had expressed their strong opposition to the CAB in the NEDA meeting attended by Shah in Guwahati last month.
Protesters took to the streets in the Nagaland capital Kohima, Arunachal Pradesh capital Itanagar and the Manipur capital Imphal last week against the CAB and the Central government.
(Sujit Chakraborty can be contacted at [email protected])