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PPA, Cong jointly oppose bill

Itanagar: The People's Party of Arunachal (PPA) and the state Congress have agreed to join hands to fight against implementation of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and for amending the Arunachal Statehood Act, 1986.

PCC vice-president Minkir Lollen appealed to the people of Arunachal to fight the "undemocratic" bill tooth and nail keeping differences of tribe, creed, community, religion, region and politics aside.

He alleged that the bill was a "weapon to push ahead the RSS ideology of converting the non-Hindu dominated areas in the country into Hindu-dominated ones by bringing in and settling Hindu refugees from Bangladesh". Moreover, he said, the bill has been introduced at a time when Arunachal is already under the serious threat of Chakma-Hajong and Tibetan refugees.

"This bill, if implemented, will reduce the indigenous tribal people of our region into minorities," he said in a meeting held here recently on the possible fallout of the bill on the socio-political and economic aspects of the region.

"It is a matter of great concern that MPs like Kiren Rijiju, Ninong Ering, and Mukut Mithi have been found to be keeping quiet on this subject. Where were they when this bill was placed in Parliament? They must take a tough stand on this issue by opposing it or else resign from their posts," Lollen said, adding that the issue of Tibetan refugees was as serious as that of the Chakma-Hajongs, which the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union has been taking up.

PPA secretary general Kaling Jerang said, "It is learnt there was a cabinet sitting on Friday but the chief minister did not comment on the bill. The conspicuous silence of the government and its party (BJP) executives on the bill is intriguing. What is compelling the Arunachal chief minister to keep quiet when the Meghalaya government, of which the BJP is a part, has opposed the bill?"

He said the bill is perilous as the Northeast is surrounded by Bangladesh, Nepal, China, and Myanmar. "According to the bill, refugees staying in India for six years will become Indian citizens and this will undoubtedly have an annihilating effect on our state, which is otherwise a constitutionally protected tribal state," he said.

Jerang claimed that the people of the state were against settlement of any refugees in Arunachal. "The onus lies purely on the government to take a tough stand against the bill and amend the statehood act," he said.

The parties also agreed that the statehood act needs to be amended so that Arunachal can be given special status at par with Nagaland and Mizoram under Article 371(A) instead of Article 371(H) of the Constitution.

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