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Leader of Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly Mukul Sangma has said that the Sixth Schedule and Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulations, 1873, which mandates Inner Line Permit (ILP), will not protect the indigenous people of the region.

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The veteran Congress also charged the National People’s Party, which is leading the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance coalition government of making a U-turn regarding its stand against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

“We are surprised and shocked despite resolution signed by all political parties and civil society organizations indicating our strong opposition to the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, somehow the NPP did a U-turn,” Sangma said.

The former chief minister termed the meeting with Home Minister Amit Shah was a ‘cosmetic exercise’ because concerns of the Northeast were not addressed.

“It was a betrayal and a politics of backstabbing, and we condemned it. They have taken the political parties and civil society organizations and people as a whole for a ride with complete disregard to the sentiments and views of the masses. In spite of these concerns, the government of the day, courtesy the NPP and their leadership, have tried to convey to the nation and the world that people of Meghalaya and Northeast accept this anti-people, anti-national legislative exercise of the government of the day. It is anti-people, and there cannot be any bigger betrayal than this,” he said.

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He said the NDA government was trying to justify by saying the bill is now in a new avatar, as it has provisions to protect the interest of the Northeast by exempting states having ILP and Sixth Schedule.

Stating that every political party should ensure they keep their promises and questioned the NPP for promising to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has been part of their promises, Sangma said, “It is the biggest betrayal, and against the spirit of democracy as well. We know the BJP has this in their manifesto, and they try to bulldoze.”

Justifying that provisions of the Sixth Schedule and ILP cannot prevent citizens of the country, Sangma said, “ILP has been there from before in respect of Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, but the fact is, even when ILP is operational, the actual population of the indigenous community and non indigenous have increased in favour of non tribal.”

“Even if we implement the Sixth Schedule or ILP or both, it will still not be enough to protect the interest of our people. We will need many more laws and legislative exercises which will be much more comprehensive and stringent to really protect the interest of our indigenous communities,” he said.

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