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CAB will dilute Art 371F, says Bhaichung

 GANGTOK, Dec 10 - Former Indian football team captain Bhaichung Bhutia today expressed disappointment that Sikkim was not excluded from the ambit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, unlike several other NE States. Bhutia, also working president of the Hamro Sikkim Party, expressed fears that the legislation would dilute special provisions of the Himalayan State that it enjoys under Article 371F of the Constitution.

 He also urged the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha-led Government to press for implementing the Inner Line Permit system in the State and quit the NDA in protest against the passage of the Bill. The legislation, that seeks to grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who are fleeing persecution there, was passed in the Lok Sabha with 311-80 votes.

“We are deeply disappointed with the CAB. The Bill has not excluded Sikkim compared to other North-East States like Nagaland, Meghalaya and a few others. We wanted Sikkim also be mentioned in writing on the Bill like other North-East states,” Bhutia said in a Facebook post.

He said though Home Minister Amit Shah had mentioned in the House that the legislation would not have any effect on States enjoying special status under Article 371, the legal provision is different from Article 371F.

“This Bill is surely a way of diluting Article 371F in the long run,” the former Indian football team captain said. Bhutia said apparent efforts by Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang and the State’s lone Lok Sabha member Indra Hang Subba failed in keeping Sikkim out of the CAB’s ambit.

“Despite our CM and MP claiming to have fought for the State to exclude Sikkim (out of CAB), the result has not been fruitful,” he said. Chief Minister Tamang had earlier said that the Centre would not touch Article 371F which, he said, was one of the key terms of the merger of Sikkim with India in 1975. – PTI

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