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Centre attempts damage control on Citizenship Bill (Lead)

New Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) In an apparent bid to assuage fears in the northeast over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the Centre on Tuesday said that under the proposed law nobody will get Indian citizenship without the consent of the respective state governments.

In fact, the government would like to encourage such immigrants to take up residence in states outside the northeast, where there has been an uproar over the legislation seeking to give Indian citizenship to Hindus and other non-Muslims facing persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

“Without the state government’s recommendation, no one will be given Indian citizenship,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

“Each and every individual application for Indian citizenship will have to be inquired into by the District Magistrate, who will analyse each case and give recommendations to the state government. The state government also has to do its inquiry through its agencies,” he added.

Ministry sources also said the government was mulling giving incentives to people seeking citizenship for settling anywhere in India except in the northeast.

The Home Ministry clarification came amid mounting opposition to the Citizenship Bill, which has been passed by the Lok Sabha and is now pending in the Rajya Sabha.

Critics say it will open the floodgates for migration into the northeast.

The Bill provides for making Hindus and other non-Muslim minorities eligible for Indian citizenship after their stay in India for seven years.

BJP’s own Chief Ministers – Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam) and Phema Khandu (Arunachal Pradesh) – are said to be having reservations over the Bill. N. Biren Singh of Manipur has expressed his opposition to it. And so has Conrad Sangma in Meghalaya.

–IANS
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