Assam: Anti-bill protests gather momentum


GUWAHATI, May 22, 2018: North East Students' Union (Neso) organised protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, across the Northeast on Monday while Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, an umbrella organisation of the state's indigenous people, staged a five-hour sit-in.

Neso, a conglomerate of student unions of northeastern states, organised protests in every state capital of the region, saying the bill, if passed, will change the region's demography. The protests were a boost to organisations spearheading the anti-bill movement such as All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).

The bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

In Guwahati, AASU, a constituent of Neso, protested in front of Raj Bhavan for two hours, demanding full implementation of the 1985 Assam Accord with says anybody coming to Assam after midnight of March 24, 1971 is a foreigner. The Karbi Students' Union joined the protest.

AASU president Dipanka Nath said it will organise protests and awareness drive in Assam from May 23 to 30.

AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said, "The bill is a conspiracy of the BJP government against the people of Assam. We should unite against it. Else, like in Tripura, the indigenous people of Assam will become minorities in their own state."

In Mizoram, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl, its apex student body, staged a sit-in in Aizawl. MZP president L. Ramdinliana Renthlei said they would oppose the bill because it will have a demographic impact on the Mizos. "The bill is dangerous. Mizoram harbours many illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries and the bill, if passed, will immensely affect the Mizos." He warned of an "armed uprising" if the Centre ignores Mizoram. He criticised the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, for not visiting Mizoram during its Northeast tour. He asked the Centre if Mizoram was not a part of India. The JPC held hearings in Assam and Meghalaya this month.

The Twipra Students' Federation, also a constituent of Neso, took out a rally at Nandannagar, 15km from Agartala. TSF secretary Sunil Debbarma said Tripura was the worst victim of influx as it is the only state where indigenous communities are totally outnumbered by migrants. He claimed that the bill could "aggravate" the situation.

Matiur Rahman, leader of the Mahasangha that had challenged the bill in the Supreme Court, said their protest would continue till Wednesday. They will send a memorandum opposing the bill to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Rajnath Singh.

Source: The Telegraph

Featured image: The Telegraph