Manipur filmmaker to return Padma Shri in protest against Citizenship Amendment Bill

Renowned Filmmaker from Manipur Aribam Syam Sharma has decided to return his 2006 Padma Shri award in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

Why the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has become controversial?

The citizenship amendment bill 2016 aims to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955. The controversial features of the bill are

  • The bill allows the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship.
  • The bill relaxes the 11-year cutoff to six years out of 14, for immigrants of the six religions from the three countries.

The bill is criticised for being communal as it grants citizenship on the basis of religion. It is also argued that the bill is against the basic structure of the constitution as the Supreme Court has upheld secularism as a basic structure of the constitution. It is said that the bill also violates Article 14 which promotes equality.

Why the heat against the bill is more in North East?

The issue of illegal immigrants is a sensitive issue in the North-East. Often the states have witnessed clashes and communal riots due to tensions between immigrants and the locals.
The bill is aimed at providing citizenship to illegal immigrants. The North-Eastern states share borders with Bangladesh. It is said that due to porous borders between India and Bangladesh, lakhs of illegal immigrants have crossed over to India and are majorly concentrated in these northeastern states.
The North-Eastern States have often witnessed protests seeking identification of these illegal immigrants and deporting them. Assam Accord and National Registry of Citizens were aimed at curbing the menace of the illegal immigrants.
The people of North East fear that if the bill is implemented their struggle for years would be undermined and there would be a heavy Social, Economical and political burden on the North-East.

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