‘BJP will bring Citizenship Amendment Bill again to protect interests of indigenous people’

Imphal, April 15 (PTI): The BJP is committed to protecting the interests of indigenous people against the influx of illegal immigrants, a major concern in Manipur which witnessed violent protests against the now-aborted Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the party’s candidate from the Inner Manipur seat – R K Ranjan Singh – has said.

Singh said the protests in the state in February this year against the bill were based on “ill-informed campaigns” and reiterated that his party will curb illegal immigration into India through a fresh version of the bill, along with the implementation of National Register of Citizens (NRC) across the country.

“It is clearly stated in our manifesto that we will bring the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and it already has appropriate measures to safeguard the interests of indigenous people against immigration of foreigners,” Singh told PTI here.

He reiterated that “the bill cannot be implemented without the consent of the states where immigrants are proposed to be accommodated”.

Asked about the protests against the bill in the state, he blamed the Congress for carrying out “misinformed campaigns”.

“The bill was introduced in Parliament with the approval of a Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2016. At that time, there was a Congress government in Manipur. Why didn’t they raise the issue then and are bringing it up now only at the time of elections?” he said.

On the issue of illegal immigration, he said the BJP has made it clear in its manifesto that NRC will be implemented, as it has been done in Assam, in a phased manner across all the states in the country.

“Once that’s done, there will be a complete check on illegal immigrants,” Singh said adding people of Manipur need not worry about the influx of illegal immigrants.

On the long-pending demand for implementation of Inner Line Permit (ILP) in Manipur, Singh said the state unit of the party has been persuading the Centre to consider Manipur People’s Protection Bill which was passed by the state Assembly in July 2018.

The bill seeks to regulate the entry of ‘non-Manipuris’ into the state. It defines ‘Manipur people’ as those citizens of India who have been living in Manipur before 1951.

The bill proposes registration of the non-Manipuris within a month of its enactment. Thereafter, no outsider would be able to enter the state without a pass. It is yet to be approved by the President.

Singh blamed the Congress for “letting illegal immigrants enter the Northeast, including Manipur, during its rule for decades” and said his party was only trying to address the issue.

“Illegal immigration of foreigners into India was allowed by the Congress and not the BJP,” he said.