To frame any law, primary requisite is to hold thorough discussion with a cross section of people. This is needed to minimise apprehensions both at macro and micro level. Sidestepping this golden rule is not wise, the future of any law enacted without taking the people in confidence is doomed to say the least.
Ever since talks of amending the citizenship Act was initiated, the North-Eastern populace, cutting across political divisions and various other barriers, has in unison demanded that the move be dropped. But in its own wisdom, the Centre is yet to take note of the grievances of the people. Instead of taking proper measures to allay those grievances, the Centre is only offering mere lip service. Though Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has assured that at any cost he would protect the interest of the region, it is not sufficient at all. The Centre will have to take some concrete steps to prove itself as a protector of North-East.
Why are the North-Eastern people so agitated about the proposed amendments? Those who have even very little knowledge about the region definitely know that today North-East is in no position to bear the burden of foreigners. Unchecked entry of foreigners to the region is virtually threatening to alter the demographic pattern of the region. North-East’s own ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity is getting lost. In many places of the region, the local populace has virtually been swamped by foreigners. Many a times, the people of the region have urged the Centre to check the flow of foreigners to the region. But for reasons best known to it, the Centre did nothing to protect the North-East.
The Centre first acted when Assam was on fire for six long years in mid-eighties. The famous Assam Accord was signed between the Centre and the agitating students. In the said accord it has been agreed by both the sides to declare March 25, 1971 as cut off date for foreigners. Sadly, the Centre is yet to implement the historic accord in its true right and spirit. As a result, North-East still today remains as an ‘El-Dorado’ to the foreigners, where outsiders come and settle for better and attractive livelihood.
The North-East populace sought reprieve from such a situation. The people are not interested in knowing whether the proposed amendments are an indirect attempt to impose two nations theory advocated by Hindutva stalwart V. D. Savarkar or whether it against the very ethos of Indian Constitution as it does not recognise citizenship on the basis of religion. They are only interested in preserving their ethnic, cultural and linguistic identity. It is not a mere apprehension that people of a particular religion from a neighbouring country will be interested in settling in North-East. The Centre is duty bound to tell the people of the region what steps it is contemplating to totally eliminate such possibilities. It is for the Centre to assure the people that uniqueness of North-East will be preserved at any cost by detailing the steps it has initiated. It is for the Centre to consult people of North-East before going ahead with the proposed amendments. Efforts to suppress opposition to the amendments by political power are bound to be counterproductive as it’s an issue of ‘life and death’ for the North-Eastern people.