Northeast erupts in protests against Citizenship Bill move

It’s a communal bill and threatens existence of indigenous peoples in the region, says AASU.

Published - November 18, 2019 05:02 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Activists of North East Students Organisation (NESO) along with All Assam Students' Union (AASU) hold placards as they take out a protest rally against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, in Guwahati on Monday, November 18, 2019.

Activists of North East Students Organisation (NESO) along with All Assam Students' Union (AASU) hold placards as they take out a protest rally against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, in Guwahati on Monday, November 18, 2019.

Students’ organisations across the northeastern States took to the streets to protest against the Centre’s move to introduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill during the winter session of Parliament.

The Bill seeks to fast-track the process of granting citizenship to six non-Muslim communities who left Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan allegedly due to religious persecution.

Members of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) marched up to a point near the Raj Bhavan in Guwahati from where a small group submitted a memorandum to Governor Jagdish Mukhi. The union demanded the withdrawal of the proposed bill in the memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

“This is a communal bill and threatens the existence of the indigenous peoples of Assam and elsewhere in the northeast,” AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya said.

While other organisations led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti launched a door-to-door campaign to drum up support against the bill, members of nine political parties that formed the Left Democratic Front, Assam, staged a sit-in demanding the scrapping of the bill.

The AASU is a constituent of the North East Students’ Organisation, which spearheaded Monday’s protest across the eight States in the region and submission of memoranda to the Governors of the respective States.

The protests were peaceful barring minor clashes between demonstrators and the police in Imphal. Apart from the students’ groups, an organisation called the Manipur People Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, steered the protests besides imposing an 18-hour shutdown in Manipur from Monday.

Organisations such as the Tripura Students’ Federation, the Khasi Students’ Union (Meghalaya), the All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, the Naga Students’ Federation (Nagaland) and the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (Mizoram) took out rallies in their respective States.

In Mizoram, parties such as the People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram joined the protest. “The proposed Citizenship Bill is harmful for the entire northeast. But the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre appears to be putting the interest of illegal migrants above that of the indigenous people,” party president Vanlalruata said.

NGOs in Meghalaya have vowed not to relent until the Centre dumps the bill. To drive home the point, the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations has called for a night road blockade across the State on November 18 and 19.

The blockade is from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m.

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