Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma

The Meghalaya Assembly adopted a resolution urging the Centre to exempt the entire state including areas not covered under the Sixth Schedule from the purview of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) 2019.

The government resolution was moved by Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on the second day of the budget session of the Meghalaya Assembly and it was passed through a voice vote on March 16.

However, the opposition Congress disapproved the content of the resolution, and demanded that the resolution should urge the Centre to repeal the CAA.

The resolution said that the CAA has come into force on December 12, 2019 and the Act provides that it “shall not apply to tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution. The CAA applies to areas in the state not covered under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, that is, the municipality of Shillong as define in Para 20 of the Sixth Schedule, and hence additional measures are required to protect and safeguard the interests of the tribal population of the state,”

“Now therefore this House thanks the Government of India for exempting the Sixth Schedule areas of the state from the purview of the Act, and resolves that the Government of India be urged to exempt the entire state including areas not covered under the Sixth Schedule from the purview of the said Act,” the resolution said.

Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma said that the CAA cannot be accepted and the central government has justified the Act by distorting facts and history with regards to the partition of India.

“It was justified by Union Home Minister (Amit Shah) that India was divided based on religious lines, but it was not. The fact remains that only those who agreed to be divided on religious lines they go to Pakistan, but not those residing in India. The people of Meghalaya and the Northeast as a whole are not accepting the CAA and when it was justified that the CAA is based on religious lines, they (Centre) will push through their agenda,” he pointed out.

Mukul said that the people of the Northeast are being divided by this Act.

However, the CM said that the state cannot reject a law passed by the Centre, but can urge upon the Union government to exempt the remaining two square km area from the CAA.

Sangma also said that anybody who sought Indian citizenship, should follow the original Citizenship Act and “which is not an invitation free for all”.

Informing that no individual has sought application to apply for citizenship under the CAA, the CM said that the state government wanted to get the entire state exempted from the CAA, and this is the most practical way to move the central government to get this Act exempted.

Other Congress legislators and lone Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) legislator, Adelbert Nongrum, who is part of the government, questioned the National People’s Party-led government resolution, and insisted the resolution should demand from the Centre to repeal the CAA and not only to exempt the state from its purview.

“The Union Home Minister is playing with fire, and in the government of the day, I did not see they are for the people, but I see they are for the BJP,” Nongrum said.

The KHNAM legislator also accused that the government resolution was brought because he has already planned to bring a private resolution against the CAA.

Deputy Chief Minister in-charge Parliamentary Affairs, Prestone Tynsong however hit back at Nongrum, and clarified that the government has not prevented him from moving his resolution.

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