THE Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on which protests have erupted in the entire eastern and north-eastern part of the country, especially Assam and West Bengal, is a non-issue in neighbouring Jharkhand. This is surprising, especially at a time when Assembly elections are on in the State.
According to Jharkand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leaders, the issue in the State is not so much about citizenship but of domicile and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government’s attempts to redefine the policy. “The CAB is not an issue in Jharkhand because we don’t have the problem of infiltration. After Partition, refugees who came to Jharkhand were settled in cities like Ranchi, Jamshedpur and Dhanbad. They were given land to set up businesses and build homes and were given land pattas. They were declared Indian citizens, so there is no controversy about them,” said Supriyo Bhattacharjee, JMM general secretary.
He said even refugees from Bangladesh were settled in camps. “What actually is an issue in Jharkhand is the granting of domicile. The BJP government has made 1985 the cut-off year for domicile while we say it should be decided in accordance with the land records of 1932,” he said.
Bhattacharjee said the CAB, in its present form, was unconstitutional because it discriminated on the basis of religion while Article 14 of the Constitution granted equality to all irrespective of religion, caste or gender. “The BJP should say they do not believe in this Constitution because what they are proposing is dangerous, it would lead to civil war,” he said.
For the All Jharkhand Students Union (AJSU), which is modelled after the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), the citizenship issue is of no relevance in Jharkhand. “We are only concerned about our issues like tenancy laws, forest rights, domicile as per land records of 1932, etc. We will not allow any government to even touch the Chotanagpur and Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act. But we are neutral on the CAB,” said AJSU leader Doman Singh Munda, a retired IAS officer, who now heads the party’s intellectual cell.