New Delhi: Ace Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Shyam Sharma on Sunday returned the Padma Shri Award to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, news agency ANI reported. Padma Shri is the fourth highest civilian award in India.

Talking to news agency IANS, he said, “The Bill is against the interest of the people of North-East and the indigenous people of Manipur. Several people here (Manipur) have opposed the Bill, but it seems they (the Central government) are determined to pass it.”

The filmmaker, known for films like “Ishanou”, “Imagi Ningthem (My Son, My precious)” and “Leipaklei”, was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2006.

The proposed Citizenship Bill has triggered apprehension in the region that it will not be in the interest of the indigenous people of North-East. Political parties and civic groups in the northeast say if this is implemented, “outsiders” will overwhelm the local population.

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.

Earlier in the day, BJP President Amit Shah had said that the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was “very necessary” and added that the government was working on building a consensus with stakeholders in the northeast.

Addressing the media in the national capital, Shah had also said that the government had brought the bill after much thought and Home Minister Rajnath Singh was holding consultations with various people to address the opposition to the issue.

(With IANS inputs)