NRC and CAB: The cauldron boils over in the NE

It has been a month since the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) was published in Assam and the Northeast is still abuzz with citizenship related concerns. While Meghalaya and Mizoram are imposing stricter border controls to prevent influx of people excluded from the NRC in Assam, Manipur is all set to hold mass protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

Sylvester Nongtneger, Meghalaya’s Superintendent of Police (anti-infiltration) told Hindustan Times, “From September 1 to till September 26, 1,241 persons were detected without valid documents. They were directed to bring documents and visit Meghalaya.” Officers at the check points along the long border Meghalaya shares with Assam are checking for NRC status of people before letting them in. Earlier Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had expressed concerns about people left out of the NRC in Assam making their way into Meghalaya. In Fact, the Khasi Student Union had also set up check points at the Assam-Meghalaya border to check NRC status of visitors after the draft NRC was released in 2018.

Meanwhile in Mizoram, that also shares a border with Assam, things are a little more complicated. An Inner Line Permit (ILP) is required to enter the state and ILP violators are turned away from border check-points. In Kolasib, an important check-point, ILP is not issued without checking NRC status of visitors. Kolasib SP Vanlalfaka Ralte told Hindustan Times that between September 1 and 16, 282 ILP violators were caught and pushed back from 5 border check-points. As many as 150 of them were caught on September 2 alone!

At a public meeting on September 24, Mizoram home minister Lalchamliana was quoted as saying, “Mobile patrolling was being conducted in several roads where people not included in NRC could have sneaked in and the police found a few hundred of such people. They were pushed back.” There is now talk of computerising the ILP system so that documents can be verified at all check-points. Vanlalruata, President of the People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) has backed the move. He told Inside NE, “I completely support the government in this regard. I want to push back all the foreigners and we endlessly press the government to push them back.”

And the citizenship conundrum isn’t just limited to the aftermath of the NRC. With the possibility of the CAB being reintroduced in Parliament in November, protests against the CAB are planned on October 3. The decision was taken at a meeting of civil society members and organisations on Sunday, September 29.

 “People in the Northeast States are fuming over the one nation, one language theory. The people in Manipur have been agitating all these days contending that when enacted this Bill will be against the interest of the indigenous peoples of this region,” said Dilipkumar Yumnamcha, convener of the Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC), which is a collective of 84 civil society organisations in Manipur.

There is also a little anxiety over the likely signing of the forthcoming accord between the Indian government and National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM). The fears are with respect to the words “without territorial limits” in the agreement. Manipur fears this could threaten the unity and integrity of the state.



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