'Pro-China’ protests in Mizoram: It happened ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha election as well
Aizawl, Jan 25: Massive protests broke out in Aizawl, the capital of the north-eastern state of Mizoram on Wednesday, January 23, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh were burnt while placards reading "Hello China, Bye Bye India" were seen frequently.
Over 30,000 people responded to the protests called by students and NGOs and student leaders warned that if pushed to the wall, the protesters will not hesitate from picking up arms.
Powerful social bodies in the state like Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) and Young Mizo Association (YMA) have even vowed to boycott Republic Day celebrations as part of the protest.
Mizos had shown similar protests in 2014
It was also in February 2014, just months ahead of the Lok Sabha election that year, that similar pro-China slogans were heard in Mizoram and "curfew" was imposed on "outsiders" in the state.
The reason for the protests then was against racial discrimination and attacks on people from that part of the country in places like Delhi. The 'Hello China' placards are seen in a state which though has no border with that China.
The protesters had said then that they were disappointed with India's treatment of them like 'second-class citizens' and that there are some countries in the neighbourhood where they feel more at home since they would not be discriminated there on the basis of their physical traits.
Even the BJP unit of the neighbouring state of Manipur had sent a memorandum to then prime minister Manmohan Singh, urging to frame anti-racism law to safeguard the people of north-east.
Mizos are angry again in 2019
Five years since that protests against the feeling of alienation in their own country, the Mizos are angry again, this time over the Citizenship Bill.
Unlike in Assam where infiltration from Bangladesh has been an old issue, the concern in Mizoram is against the threat from the influx of "illegal Chakmas".
The Chakmas constitute over 10 per cent of the population of Mizoram and a large section of the Mizos do not consider them as part of their state and consider them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Mizo groups have also protested in the past seeking dissolution of Chakma Autonomous District Council.
The controversial citizenship bill which was passed in the Lok Sabha earlier this month aims to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by relaxing the citizenship eligibility rules for migrants belonging to six communities -- Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi, and Christian - from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Even though there has been change of guards at both Centre (Congress in 2014, BJP in 2019) and state (Congress in 2014, Mizo National Front in 2019), yet the Mizos' are far from satisfied on questions of ethnicity and citizenship.
The north-east continues to find itself at a precarious distance from mainland India and no political leadership has yet been able to bridge the gap, even if there is more universality in the changing political colours in the region - from Congress to non-Congress.