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Northeast Diary: Why Centre is going slow on CAA | India News

More than two and half years since its passage, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA is yet to be implemented in the country. And it seems the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Centre is now extra careful about this piece of legislation that sparked nationwide protests between December 2019 and March 2020, during which more than 60 people lost their lives.
Although the government indicated that rules for implementing the CAA would be framed once the Covid booster dose drive was over, there could be further delay given the matter has been taken up by the Supreme Court. Over 200 petitions have been filed in the apex court challenging the controversial law. In January 2020, the court had refused to stay the law.
Now, the top court will hear on October 31 the constitutional validity of the CAA which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim migrants fleeing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.
One key takeaway is that the court may conduct separate hearings in the pleas pertaining to Assam and Tripura where the citizenship row has a different connotation.
The law, in the immediate aftermath of its passage, had caused unrest in the Northeast primarily because local organisations feared the CAA would create a demographic imbalance in the region. They cite Tripura as an example where indigenous communities were reduced to a minority status due to a massive influx of Hindus from neighbouring Bangladesh.
The anti-CAA movement received a fresh impetus after the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), the umbrella body of all student outfits in the region, last month staged demonstrations in all state capitals.
While most petitioners contend that the CAA violates Article 14 (equality before law), which guarantees equal protection of the laws to any person, and not just citizens, those from Northeast argue that the amended citizenship law would make matters worse for states like Assam and Tripura, which are already bursting at the seams because of the migration from Bangladesh.
According to the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), one of the petitioners, the CAA is in conflict with the 1985 Assam Accord as it stipulated that foreigners who entered the state after March 24,1971, irrespective of their religious affiliation, must be deported.
The CAA also contravenes the provisions of the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950, which grants special powers to expel migrants who are “detrimental to the interests of the general public of India” or “any scheduled tribes in Assam”.
Besides, the AASU argues that in the 2005 case against the now-defunct Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act, the apex court had recognized illegal immigration as “external aggression”. It also noted that the “duty of the Union”, as enshrined in Article 355, is to “protect States against external aggression and internal disturbance”.
The court had struck down the IMDT Act as unconstitutional after hearing the petition filed by Sarbananda Sonowal, who was then an MP of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), now a junior partner in the BJP-led coalition government in Assam.
Another contention is that the CAA would violate international laws such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Persons, 2007. It also imposes a duty on states to protect these rights.

Illusion and reality

BJP national president JP Nadda said the Northeast has now become “insurgency-free” with the signing of various accords with militant groups of the region in the past few years. He made this remark during a recent visit to Nagaland, a state which is awaiting settlement of the decades-old insurgency problem.
Needless to say, the BJP-led central government had in 2015 signed a ‘Framework Agreement’ with Naga rebels with much fanfare and triumphantly declared that it was serious about bringing an end to India’s oldest insurgency. Since then, the Naga peace process has not progressed much due to disagreement over two key demands – a separate flag and a constitution.
Nadda’s visit assumes significance given Nagaland will go to polls next year. The saffron party is likely to have a seat-sharing agreement with the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP). Speculation is rife that BJP will contest 20 seats and while the NDPP will field its candidates in 40 constituencies.
“The northeast region has turned insurgency-free… The Karbi Anglong Agreement was signed in 2021. It is in synergy with the vision of an insurgency-free and prosperous northeast. The Tripura Agreement was signed in August 2019. For permanent settlement of Bru families, the Bru Accord has been signed…,” he said.
Yes, he is right in presenting these facts! But the time and place was wrong. In India, nobody understands insurgency better than the Naga people and they can easily draw the line between rhetoric and reality.

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