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Citizenship Bill: Protests continue in North East States

Citizenship Bill: Protests continue in North East States
Activists of various indigenous organizations stage a protest rally in front of Assam Secretariat against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in Guwahati, Wednesday.
IANS/Correspondent GUWAHATI/AGARTALA/IMPHAL, JAN 9 | Publish Date: 1/9/2019 11:07:14 AM IST

Widespread protests against the Citizenship Bill continued in Assam Wednesday with agitators blocking roads and marching with their clothes off in several parts of the state.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangaldesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan was passed by the Lok Sabha Tuesday.

Agitators across the Northeast, including Assam, have been blocking roads and rail tracks, seeking revocation of the Bill.

In Guwahati, members of 70 organisations, led by Akhil Gogoi’s Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, protested outside central government offices and also tried way through the barricades to the state secretariat, leading to a scuffle with police.

“Police had to resort to mild lathicharge and fire rubber bullets to disperse the protesters who refused to move back despite warnings. Some of them were also taken into custody to prevent deterioration in law and order situation,” a senior officer said.

In Golaghat’s Numaligarh area, members of Asom Aikya Manch took to the streets with their clothes off to protest against the Bill.

At Digboi, the agitators tried to block a highway to stop Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from attending Gorkha Mahatsov. They were, however, dispersed by the police.

AASU activists in Nagaon waved black flags to BJP state unit president Ranjeet Das.

Protests by students were also reported from Cotton State University and Dibrugarh University.

An 11-hour shutdown was called by AASU and NESO, and supported by over hundred organisations Tuesday, bringing life to a standstill in Assam.

Prohibitory order clamped in Tripura

Prohibitory order under Section 144 CrPC has been clamped for an indefinite period at Tripura’s Madhabbari and adjacent areas, where at least seven persons were injured when Citizenship Bill protesters clashed with police on Tuesday, according to a police official.

Sub-divisional police Officer (SDPO) Prankrishna Das said the police launched a search operation at Madhabbari and Dasharambari in Jirania police station of West Tripura district since Tuesday night during which one country made gun and a machete were recovered.

“The situation is completely under control now,” the SDPO told PTI.

SMS and mobile Internet services remained suspended throughout the state till Wednesday while broadband services, though available, was very slow.

The home department in a notification had suspended the services for two days since Tuesday apprehending law and order problem after the clashes.

Police foil protest rally in Manipur

Manipur police on Wednesday foiled a protest rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that seeks to provide citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A protest rally had been planned by Left Coordination Committee of Manipur units of CPI, CPI (M), RSP and Forward Block at the concluding part of another protest on the same issue. 

Addressing a press conference, convener of the committee L Sotinkumar alleged that the passing of the bill despite strong objections from the opposition bench was nothing but against the Constitution and a dishonouring of the country’s secularism. “BJP’s intention of passing the bill is nothing but to convert India into a homeland of Hindu. The bill will give a great impact to demography of Northeast states,” he said.

Manipur People Party (MPP), North-East India Development Party (NEIDP), Manipur unit of Siva Sena and other also objected to the bill. 

Meanwhile, members of Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur (DESAM) staged a protest in front their office before burning a copy of the bill in the concluding part of the protest.

Talking to reporters, DESAM leaders worried that once the bill got the assent of the President after passing through the Rajya Sabha, indigenous people of the North East will be dominated by migrants from outside the region. 

The bill will eliminate the people of the region from their own land, they alleged. All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) has warned that if the bill is not withdrawn at the earliest, the body will be compelled to take extreme steps like boycotting the upcoming Republic Day.

Meanwhile, Manipur chief minister N Biren Singh has said that his government will not, in any way, go against the aspirations and wishes of the people.

“Government is thoroughly examining the pros and cons of the bill (Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-2016). India is a federal structure. The Centre can’t impose any policies which are unacceptable to the state,” he said.

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