Having made no specific mention of Sikkim after a copy of the Citizenship Amendment Act, which will be submitted to Parliament next week, Sikkimese woke up from their slumber with their chief minister, PS Tamang, rushing to New Delhi to seek clarification from home ministry on the act.
It can be said that the entire Northeast has witnessed public meetings, marches and demonstrations in their respective state capitals against the citizenship reform bill with little or no involvement in Sikkim over the past few weeks.
A day after the union cabinet cleared the controversial bill, a section of the media got hold of the draft bill and it reads, “Nothing in this section shall apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and the area covered under ‘The Inner Line’ notified under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.” Mizoram falls under the ILP.
The version, however, is silent about Sikkim's fate. Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura's non-tribal areas will come within the scope of the Act.
To address people's frustration, Sikkim Chief Minister P.S Tamang wrote a letter to the Home Minister of the Union, Amit Shah asking him to exclude Sikkim from the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) and the National Citizens Register (NRC).
In his message, Tamang persuaded the Home Minister of the Union that the government of the Union had decided to give its own fraternity a citizen certificate. There is, however, apprehension and uncertainty about CAB & NRC in the state of Sikkim.
The Chief Minister also brought to the notice of the Union Home Minister Amit Shah that around 75,000 left out from Sikkim at the time of the merger in Union of India has already been granted Indian citizenship way back on the year 1989-90.
Tamang, in his letter, also highlighted the Constitutional safeguard of Article 371(F) which governs the state of Sikkim and protects its old laws and Inner Line Permit (ILP) issued by the state of Sikkim.
“Therefore, both the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) be exempted from the purview of its implementation in the state of Sikkim,” he wrote in his letter.
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