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Normal life hit as Northeast erupts over passage of Citizenship Bill at Lok Sabha

Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported as bandh supporters damaged vehicles and engaged in a tussle with police and security personnel at different places.

Published: 10th December 2019 02:24 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2019 03:05 PM   |  A+A-

Demonstrators burn tyre in Assam to protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. (Photo| PTI)

By Online Desk

Normal life across Assam has been affected in view of an 11-hour bandh called by North East Students Organisation (NESO), an umbrella body of students body of North East region, including the influential All Assam Students Union (AASU), against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB).

Assam, as well as NE region, has been opposing the CAB, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Jain and Christian refugees from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan who came to India before December 31, 2004.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, piloted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, was comfortably passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday night as the ruling BJP enjoys a clear majority in the house.

According to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, non- Muslim minorities, who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and moved to the country before December 31, 2014, will be accorded Indian citizenship.

It, however, exempted tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and areas covered under The Inner Line, notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

Shah has asserted that the Narendra Modi government was committed to protect the customs and culture of people of the region.

The legislation was passed by 311-80 votes in the Lower House of the Parliament.

The shutdown, led by the All Assam Students' Union and the North East Students' Organisation, has coincided with the bandh called by Left-leaning organizations, including SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF and AISA.

The bandh has been supported by various other political as well as apolitical organisations.

Protestors blocked national highways and other roads by burning tyres.

Sporadic incidents of violence were also reported as bandh supporters damaged vehicles and engaged in a tussle with police and security personnel at different places.

The main city Guwahati was also affected by the bandh as CAB protestors blocked several roads in the city and took out processions.

The state has been opposing the CAB, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to religious minorities from select neighbouring countries, claiming that it will change the demographic pattern of the state as well as the NE region.

The CAB was passed in the Lok Sabha last night and is scheduled to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha tomorrow.

Train movement in Assam has been severely hit due to the 11-hour shutdown. A Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) spokesperson said here train movement in the three divisions in the state – Rangiya, Lumding and Tinsukia, have been hit during the bandh.

"Trains have been detained at several places. Long-distance trains have been detained or controlled at various places. A few local trains had to be cancelled also. Many other trains have been short-terminated," the spokesperson said.

Bandh supporters staged railway track blockade at different railway stations as well as isolated places, including in Tangla, Lakhimpur, Moran, Rangiya, Silghat and Silchar.

State police and Railway Protection Force personnel have been deployed at all locations, the spokesperson added.

On resuming running of trains, he said the authorities will wait for the blockades to be cleared.

The strike, however, did not have much impact on the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley.

In Maligaon area of the city, a government-run bus was pelted with stones and a scooter set on fire, sources said.

Shops, markets and business establishments kept shutters down, while educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, the official sources stated.

Huge processions were taken out in different areas of Guwahati, with protesters raising slogans against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019.

Agitators engaged in a scuffle with security forces near the Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Guwahati, when they were prevented from moving forward, police sources said.

Some of them also attempted to block the entrance to NF Railway headquarters here and Divisional Railway Manager's office at Rangia in Kamrup district, he said.

Vehicles - both private and public - stayed off the roads, the official sources said, adding that government-run Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) buses plied between Guwahati city and the LGB airport here, with police escort.

Examinations were shelved and rescheduled by Universities in view of the bandh.

In Dibrugarh district, bandh supporters clashed with CISF personnel.

Three of them sustained injuries as they tried to prevent the workers of Oil India Ltd (OIL) to enter office at Duliajan area.

Protesters burnt tyres and blocked national highways to stop the movement of vehicles in various parts of Assam.

Actors and singers of the Assamese film industry organised a demonstration at Chandmari area here.

Some of them also took part in a rally at Uzan Bazar area of the city.

Students of Gauhati University and Cotton University in Guwahati, along with those of Assam Agriculture University in Jorhat, took to the streets, seeking immediate withdrawal of the legislation.

Protests erupt in Northeast

Tripura

In Tripura, agitators, participating in a bandh called by NESO against the bill, put shops owned mostly by non-tribals on fire in Tripura's Dhalai district on Tuesday, police said.

However, no one was injured in the incident and the blaze at Manughat market was doused, a senior police officer said.

"Security forces have been deployed in the market but the incident has created fear among the non-tribals who owned most of the shops," the officer said.

The bandh has evoked a massive response in the tribal areas of Tripura, he said.

It threw normal life out of gear in Dhalai, West Tripura and Khowai districts with residents remaining indoors while attendance at offices was thin, the officer said.

Train services in the entire state came to a complete halt and vehicular movement was affected, he said.

Bandh supporters blocked an important road near Astable Ground in Agartala at 9.30 am, stalling traffic.

"Around 300 agitators were detained peacefully after 45 minutes of their demonstration," the officer said.

Normal life was affected in Meghalaya too on Tuesday due a statewide called by the Khasi Students Union (KSU), a constituent of the NESO, to protest against the bill.

Shops, markets and business establishments kept shutters down, while educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, officials said.

Government offices were open but recorded less than 10 per cent attendance, they said.

The bandh began at 5 am and will continue till 4 pm.

Incidents of burning of tyres and vandalising of vehicles have been reported in the state capital as protesters lobbed Molotov cocktail at a police vehicle damaging it in Mawlai area, East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner M W Nongbri told the media.

Additional police and CRPF forces have been deployed in sensitive areas, officials said.

The North East Students' Organisation (NESO) an umbrella body of students' organisations of the region had called for the bandh in the region to protest against the CAB.

Manipur

The All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) on Tuesday called for a total shutdown in the state from 3 am to 6 pm to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has already received Lok Sabha nod.

The union, a constituent of North East Student's Organisation (NESO), said it would intensify its agitation if the bill was not immediately withdrawn.

NESO - an apex body of students' organizations in the northeast - has called for a shutdown across the region in protest against the legislation, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugees who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

Normal life was affected in parts of Manipur on Tuesday morning as shops and business establishments kept shutters down, and educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, official sources said.

Vehicles - both public and private - stayed off the roads as demonstrators hit the streets in protest.

The agitators contended that the bill would threaten the identity of indigenous communities, despite Union Home Minister's repeated attempts to allay their fears.

Laishram Athouba Meitei, the president of All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU), said the protests would continue till the central government conceded.

He, however, hailed the Centre's decision to introduce the Inner line Permit system in the border state.

"We will continue with our agitation till the bill is scrapped. Now that the bill has received Lok Sabha nod, we are making preparations to intensify our protest," Athouba said.

ILP is an official travel document issued by the government to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.

Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday thanked the NDA government for its decision to extend the ILP system to Manipur.

Currently, ILP regime is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Athouba clarified that his union would not step away from the protest against the citizenship bill, despite the Centre's assurance to introduce ILP in the state.

"We are glad that ILP regime was being extended to Manipur, but that would not stop us from holding demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Millions of infiltrators settled here illegally would get citizenship if the bill is implemented," he added.

Arunachal Pradesh

Normal life came to a halt in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday due to the 11-hour North East bandh called by NESO in protest against the CitizenshiP Bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday night.

Educational institutions, banks, commercial establishments and markets were closed while public and private vehicles were off the road in the state in response to the bandh called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU), a constituent of North East Students' Union.

Attendances in government offices were almost nil during the bandh which began at 5 am in the morning, officials said.

The bandh is peaceful except a few stray incidents of stone-pelting by bandh supporters, Capital Superintendent of Police (SP) Tumme Amo informed.

According to reports, the bandh is also total in all the districts of the state where respective students bodies have imposed the bandh extending support to AAPSU and NESO.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made throughout the state to prevent any untoward incidents during the bandh period.

(With agency inputs)



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