GUWAHATI: As the Centre plans to reintroduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 (CAB) in Parliament during its ongoing winter session, the protests against the controversial bill have returned to the Northeast.
Various organisations staged the protests in all state capitals of the region on Monday. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), which is the apex students’ body of the region, took the lead by staging protest demonstrations near the Raj Bhawans.
“The CAB is not only unconstitutional and illegal but also anti-indigenous. We are not going to accept it under any circumstances because Assam – or for that matter the Northeast – is not a dumping ground of the illegal immigrants,” advisor to NESO, Samujjal Bhattacharya, said.
In a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the NESO urged the Centre to not reintroduce the bill in Parliament.
“…We demand that the Bill should not be brought back but instead Inner Line Permit system be introduced in the entire region. The National Register of Citizens (NRC) with a base year for each state should be implemented and also constitutional safeguards granted to the people of Northeast with vast federal authority including the rights over land and its natural resources,” the NESO said.
In Guwahati, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) took out a protest rally from Swahid Bhawan to Raj Bhawan. Hundreds of students took part in it.
AASU general secretary, Lurinjyoti Gogoi, slammed the Central government for imposing the illegal immigrants on the people of Assam and the Northeast.
“We opposed this bill and we will keep opposing it. They (BJP) have manifested their fascist character by trying to get the bill passed in the Rajya Sabha ignoring the sentiments of the people of the Northeast. This will be undemocratic and anti-constitution. We will not accept the bill if forced upon us,” he said.
In Manipur’s Imphal Valley, which is already on the boil on the Naga issue, women vendors observed a cease-work stir and shouted slogans against the bill. The protests were also staged in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya.
The bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to “persecuted” Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who migrated till December 31, 2014.
The BJP’s critics have always alleged that the party is attempting to push its Hindu nationalist ideology through its move to shelter the non-Muslim immigrants. The protestors in Assam say the bill, if passed in Parliament, will render the updation of the NRC meaningless. Over 19 lakh people were left out of it.
Last week, Assam Minister and convenor of North East Democratic Alliance, Himanta Biswa Sarma, had said the Centre would come up with a tweaked version of the bill that would address the grievances of all states of the Northeast.