Assam protests against Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)

  • IASbaba
  • December 12, 2019
  • 0
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TOPIC: General Studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Assam protests against Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB)


  • In the protests in the Northeast against the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), 2019, the outrage has been most intense, sustained and widespread in Assam. 
  • Large parts of the other Northeastern states have been exempted from the ambit of the CAB, although there have been protests there too. On the other hand, the larger part of Assam is under CAB.

Reason for protests in Assam

  • Angst against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill rooted in a fear that illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, if regularized, will threaten cultural and linguistic identities.
  • Students, activists, writers, actors, musicians and people from all walks of life thronged the streets to voice their angst against the bill since they believe the bill will pose a serious threat to their livelihood and political destiny.
  • Though this provision covers refugees from three nations, the people in the North-East fear that it will primarily benefit the illegal Bengali Hindu migrants from Bangladesh who have settled in “large numbers” across the region.
  • Though the BJP has tried to hard sell the bill projecting it as a strategy to protect the Hindu identity of Assam against the influx of Muslims from Bangladesh, it failed to take into account the fear among the Assamese people of cultural hegemony of Hindu Bengalis
  • The Assamese fear that if Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims join hands, Bangla speakers will easily outnumber Assamese-speaking people in the state, as it has happened in Tripura where Bengali-Hindu immigrants from East Bengal now dominate political power, pushing the original tribals to the margins.

Areas which are exempted

There are two categories that have been given exemption — states protected by the ‘Inner Line’, and areas covered under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

  • Inner Line Permit (ILP): This is a special permit that citizens from other parts of India require to enter a state protected by the ILP regime. Without an ILP granted by the state government, an Indian from another state cannot visit an state that is under the ILP regime.
  • Sixth Schedule: The Sixth Schedule relates to special provisions in administration of certain Northeastern states. It provides special powers for  Autonomous District  Councils (ADCs) in these states. ADCs have powers to enact laws in areas under their jurisdiction on a variety of subjects, one of its objectives being to boost self-governance by tribal communities.

State by state

  • Assam: The state has three Autonomous District Councils, two of which are geographically contiguous. While these are protected, CAB will be in effect in a larger area.
  • Meghalaya: This state too has three ADCs. Unlike in Assam, the ADCs in Meghalaya cover almost the entire state. Only a small part of Shillong is not covered. CAB will be effective in that part of Shillong while the rest of the state is protected.
  • Tripura: One ADC covers around 70% of the state’s area. However, the remaining 30% holds about two-thirds of the population. CAB is effective in the smaller, more densely populated regions.
  • Arunachal Pradesh: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB.
  • Nagaland: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB. So far, only Dimapur used to be outside the regime. Now, ILP has been extended to Dimapur, too, so the whole state is now exempt.
  • Mizoram: Entire state covered under ILP regime, protected from CAB. Additionally, the state has three ADCs that are also protected under the Sixth Schedule.
  • Manipur: Entire state gets new ILP protection. The state was not protected under either option, but following the introduction of CAB in Parliament, the government has introduced ILP in Manipur too.

Do you know?

  • The new amendment to the Citizenship Act of 1955 aims to provide Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. 
  • A person belonging to any of these faiths – who entered India on or before December 31, 2014 and have lived in the country for six years – can apply for Indian citizenship.

Connecting the dots:

  • Citizenship Amendment Bill not only excludes Muslims but creates other complications. Analyse.

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