Protests erupt in North-East over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
Lending support to the voices of dissent over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, hundreds of student activists staged demonstrations today across three northeast states.
The bodies of students' unions in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland organised sit-ins this morning in their respective state capitals, demanding immediate scrapping of the proposed legislation.
The protesters also submitted memoranda to the governors in their states, seeking their intervention in the matter.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955. A key amendment in the bill seeks to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of their residence in India.
In Itanagar, members of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) said they would continue the stir till the time the government concedes to their demands.
AAPSU President Hawa Bagang said the Centre had no regard for the indigenous people of the region.
"The proposed bill is one among the many examples that show the lawmakers in our country have no or very little regard for the indigenous populace of Arunachal Pradesh and the entire northeast region," he said.
The AAPSU would organize more such democratic movements, under the aegis of Northeast Students' Organization (NESO), in the interest of the indigenous people, Bawang asserted.
The Bangladeshi refugees, who have been residing illegally in our state, would be asked to leave, he said.
"We will soon serve notices to all the Bangladeshis, who have sneaked into our state, after the National Register of Citizens (NRC) draft was released in Assam," the AAPSU president said.
The NRC was recently updated in Assam to document the "bonafide Indian citizens" living in the state.
Urging the state government to work for the interest of the state, the AAPSU president also requested the Election Commission to delete all names of Chakma and Hajong refugees from the electoral rolls.
In Kohima, members of the Naga Students' Federation (NSF) raised slogans against the central government for introducing the bill in the Lok Sabha.
The Northeast region should not be made a "dumping ground of illegal immigrants", Imtiyapang Imsong, the vice president of the apex students' body in Nagaland, told reporters.
"The continued and unabated influx of refugees and undocumented migrants from the neighbouring countries, especially Bangladesh, has threatened the existence of indigenous people," he said.
Echoing similar sentiments, the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) in Kohima today urged the legislators of Mizoram to adopt a resolution to reject the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016.
The MZP also organised a rally in the state capital to register their protest over the proposed bill.
If the bill was passed by Parliament, it would mean that the lawmakers do not consider Mizoram an integral part of the country, MZP president L Ramdinliana Rent said while addressing the rally.
A 16-member Joint Parliamentary Committee, headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agarwal, had recently conducted public hearings in Guwahati, Silchar in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya to gather opinion of the masses on the proposed bill.
Agarwal, during a public hearing in Shillong on May 10, said the views and recommendations would be compiled in a report and submitted to Parliament.