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Citizenship Act is a violation of Instrument of Accession, says Tripura’s erstwhile royal

Pradyot Deb Barman./ File photo

Pradyot Deb Barman./ File photo   | Photo Credit: RITU_RAJ_KONWAR

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Mr. Barman, who was invited to Delhi by Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a discussion, said Tripura was never under British rule and the State has already accommodated persecuted migrants from Bangladesh.

Erstwhile royal Pradyot Deb Barman from Tripura said the Citizenship Amendment Act was a violation of the Instrument of Accession signed by the princely state to merge with the Union of India in 1947.

Mr. Barman who quit the Congress party recently said he had moved the Supreme Court against the “unconstitutional” Citizenship Act that for the first time allows citizenship on the basis of religion to six communities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Like other Northeast States, Tripura witnessed violent protests against the Act.

Mr. Barman, who was invited to Delhi by Union Home Minister Amit Shah for a discussion, said Tripura was never under British rule and the State has already accommodated persecuted migrants from Bangladesh.

“How much more can Tripura absorb? The States that have had no history of accommodating persecuted minorities and who do not share borders with Bangladesh have been exempted (from the Citizenship Act). They have exempted the Sixth Schedule (tribal) areas in Tripura, but do you mean to say that Tripura belonged to someone else before that?” Mr. Barman said.

He said the saddest day of his life was when he saw Members of Parliament from the Northeast voting in favour of the Act in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha earlier this week.

“Our leadership in the Northeast is poor. We are sycophants of Delhi. It is time we have leaders with a vision and character. Boxer Mary Kom (from Manipur) also supported the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. Is she a role model?” he asked.

Mr. Barman said he will be represented by Congress leader Kapil Sibal in the Supreme Court. Mr. Sibal, also a Rajya Sabha member, had said in the Upper House that the Bill will be challenged on legal grounds.

“Amit Shah invited us to know why protests were happening in Tripura. There was no application of mind in going ahead with the Bill. We filed an application in the Supreme Court two years ago to prepare a National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Tripura. NRC should have been conducted before the Citizenship Act. How do you know who is an illegal and who is not? Then you may have exempted them under certain law,” he said.

He said that he told the Home Minister that the boundary is open and porous. “He (Mr. Shah) has gone to Parliament and said that any Hindu Bengali need not produce any document. What is the guarantee he will not cross over today and say that he came eight years ago. Non-application of mind. Home Minister said vichar karna padega (we will have to consider),” Mr. Barman said.

He said his former party (Congress) was raising issues on onions, on removal of SPG cover of Priyanka Vadra but were yet to hit the ground on this. “The reason why I left the party was because the Congress party’s stance and actions in Tripura are the same as that of the BJP,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 8:26:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/citizenship-act-is-a-violation-of-instrument-of-accession-says-tripuras-erstwhile-royal/article30300188.ece

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