Citizenship amendment law: Centre seeks to assuage NE fears

Assam bandh

New Delhi, Jan 22 : The Centre on Tuesday said that under the new Citizenship amendment law nobody will get Indian citizenship without the consent of the respective state governments, an assurance that seeks to allay fears in the northeast over the proposed law that has stoked a huge controversy in Assam and other neighbouring states.

In fact, the government would like to encourage such immigrants to take up residence in states outside the northeast, where there has been an uproar over the legislation seeking to give Indian citizenship to Hindus and other non-Muslims facing persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“Without the state government’s recommendation, no one will be given Indian citizenship,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

“Each and every individual application for Indian citizenship will have to be inquired into by the District Magistrate, who will analyse each case and give recommendations to the state government. The state government also has to do its inquiry through its agencies,” he added.

Ministry sources also said the government was mulling giving incentives to people seeking citizenship for settling anywhere in India except in the northeast.

“Only then, an individual can be granted Indian citizenship. Without the state government’s recommendation, no one will be given Indian citizenship,” the spokesperson said.

The Home Ministry clarification came amid mounting opposition to the Citizenship Bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Critics say it will open the floodgates for migration into the northeast.

The Bill provides for making Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities eligible for Indian citizenship after their stay in India for seven years.

The BJP’s own Chief Ministers – Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam) and Phema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh) – are said to be having reservations over the Bill. N. Biren Singh of Manipur has expressed his opposition to it. And so has Conrad Sangma in Meghalaya.

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