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GANGTOK | DEC 5, 2019:
Former Indian football captain and also the founder of the Hamro Sikkim party, Bhaichung Bhuitia has strongly opposed
the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which he thinks is "very dangerous" in the long term and not in the interest of the people of Sikkim.
The Union Cabinet had approved the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslim refugees facing religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Critics of the bill say citizenship can't be linked to religion. One of them, West Bengal's Trinamool Congress party, has accused the BJP of seeking "cheap and narrow" political gains.
"We are very close to Bangladesh and there are a lot of issues in Bengal and other Northeast states. So in the long run even Sikkim can get affected," Bhaichung Bhutia said.
He said he expected the Sikkim government — jointly run by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha and the BJP — to follow the example of other BJP allies in the Northeast and oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Bhaichung Bhutia said the Hamro Sikkim Party was prepared to put pressure on the Sikkim government and, if necessary, write to the Union Home Ministry and the Prime Minister's Office.
And what are Bhaichung Bhutia's views on the National Register of Citizens (NRC)?
"In Sikkim we have Article 371(F), we have our constitution, we also have the Sikkim Subject Act. So I think people who are genuinely left out should be given proper identification and their dues," he said.
"Instead of NRC, we would rather get the Sikkim Subject identification in a much bigger way," Bhaichung Bhutia said.
"Today's challenge is not just foreigners but also people who from outside of Sikkim," he said.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently said the NRC would be implemented nationwide.