CAB jettisoned

The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) 2016 was never tabled in the Rajya Sabha in its final sitting on February 13, for reasons best known to the BJP and its allies. This resulted in celebrations across the region and the emergence of heroes. Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma was hailed by the people of Assam and Mizoram as the new hero that united all those opposed to the Bill and finally made the BJP see reason and shelve the matter, at least for now. Reasons why the CAB is seen in an adversarial  light is because it violates the secular nature of the Indian Constitution and seeks to cast this country as a homeland for Hindus persecuted in the three South Asian countries. The other religious communities are an insignificant number. The North East is known as an ethnic homeland of over two hundred ethnic minorities that are all grappling for their space in the sun. Some are looking at Scheduled Tribes status and others demanding separate states.

India’s North East is also a region where demand for sovereignty have led to violent insurgencies that claimed several thousand lives. Some of the groups are still engaged in talks with the Government of India about their political status. Insurgency is far from over in the region although the number of killings have come down drastically. To contemplate bringing in a Bill like CAB would have had serious repercussions that the Centre would not have been able to quell quite so easily. Placards in Mizoram which said, ‘Welcome Independent Republic of Mizoram,” carried by no less than the former Chief Minister of the State, Lalthanhawla, convey a strident message to the Centre which it can ignore at its peril. There were other placards saying, “Bye Bye India, Hello China.” It’s ironic that people in Assam were booked for sedition merely for organising an anti-CAB rally. There is no knowing as to what would have happened if the CAB would have been passed.

But in an interesting turn of events, the Khasi Students Union volunteers here carried out a “peaceful” victory march where non-tribal residents of Rynjah were attacked. The meaning of ‘peaceful’ seems to have been redefined. It is also a matter of concern that organisations and groups can take out processions without permission from the district administration. This is a clear violation of the rule of law and has to be handled firmly. The KSU leadership has as usual denied that any of their members were responsible for the violence and has attributed it to ‘miscreants.’ What is the Intelligence Branch of the Police doing?

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