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Disappointed with CAB, 'big danger' for indigenous people: Bhaichung Bhutia

ANI | December 13, 2019 03:33 PM

New Delhi [India], Dec 13 (ANI): Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia on Friday expressed disappointment with the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), saying it is a "big danger" for the indigenous people.

"We are disappointed because Sikkim is not included in writing on the bill like other North-East states like Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur which are mentioned in the Bill," Bhutia, who is the founder of Hamro Sikkim Party (HSP), told ANI.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 became an Act after President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday gave his assent to it. With the government putting its weight behind it, the Bill easily sailed through both the Houses of Parliament.

Bhutia, an Arjuna Award and Padma Shri awardee, outlined that since Sikkim became a part of India in 1975, the state has been enjoying special provisions under Article 371F.

"We just want that in writing that we are also exempted from this Bill. We are disappointed that it is not mentioned in the Bill. I believe that the government should reevaluate again," the renowned player said.

Asked on the ongoing anti-CAB protests, Bhutia termed the situation as "unfortunate".

"We are also trying to protect our cultural identity. Today in Sikkim, we have a huge influx of refugees and people. I can relate with this with the indigenous people of other states like Assam and Tripura. They are a big danger for us. When we became a part of India in 1975, the population of the indigenous people was 50 per cent, now it has come down to 20 per cent," he elucidated.

"Hence, there will be another wave of an influx of people and outsiders and our indigenous population could go down to even five per cent," the 42-year-old said, underlining that such a trend is "scary".

Home Minister Amit Shah, while tabling the CAB in Lok Sabha on Monday, assured the North-East that the Centre will not interfere in Article 371, which accords special status to the states in the region.

"I want to assure the North-East that we will never touch Article 371," Shah had said.

He also said that the Bill will not be applicable in Sikkim as the state enjoys special provisions under Article 371F.

"We won't interfere in the rights of Sikkim as there is 371F. As long as the assembly does not ratify the CAB rules, you will continue to be under the ambit of 371F. You need not worry about it," he said.

According to the Act, members of the Hindu, Christian, Sikh, Buddhist and Zoroastrian communities, who have come from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh till December 31, 2014, and were facing religious persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants and granted Indian citizenship.

According to an official notification, the Act will not apply to the "tribal area of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and the area covered under 'The Inner Line' notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873."

Currently, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur fall under the Inner Line Permit (ILP). These areas require Indians from other states to get 'ILP' to enter or pass through them.

The passage of CAB has triggered widespread protests in the North-East, especially in Assam, where curfew has been imposed in some areas. (ANI)

 

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