Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

Citizenship Bill: Protests paralyse North East

Citizenship Bill: Protests paralyse North East

JPC has upheld most of the provisions in the bill, which has become a political and social flashpoint, given the backdrop of the NRC process in Assam.

The Lok Sabha yesterday passed a legislation that will grant citizenship to members of certain religious minorities but not Muslims, sparking protests in the country's northeast. "We therefore can not remain an ally of the BJP after this move by the Modi government", AGP president Atul Bora said.

Mizo Student Federation President L. Ramdinliana Renthlei told the media in Aizawl that they would not allow the government to implement the new citizenship law in Mizoram.

While addressing a protest meeting against the Citizenship Bill in Guwahati on Monday, Mr Mahanta stated that his party was all set to walk out of the alliance with the BJP.

"We did not organise any movement on Tuesday as part of the opposition to the Citizenship Bill", said Debbarma, also the IPFT's chief spokesman. We have already taken a decision that, if the bill is passed we will break the alliance with the BJP. It has faced allround resistance in Assam, including from NDA ally Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which quit the BJP-led Assam government.

AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision after a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh.

The move by the AGP came within hours of the presentation in Lok Sabha of a report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the bill that was first introduced in Parliament in 2016.

The AGP with 14 seats in the assembly had entered into an alliance with the BJP before the 2014 polls and was opposed to the Citizenship Amendment Bill since the beginning.

As a result of the alliance between the BJP and AGP, the 2016 Assam Assembly election was fought and the new government of the alliance led by the BJP was installed in the state, the letter said.

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Thirty ethnic organisations also supported the bandh in Assam.

Critics have called the proposal, contained in the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019, blatantly anti-Muslim and an attempt by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to boost its Hindu voter base ahead of a general election due by May.

Besides Congress, the CPI (M)-led Left parties, BJP allies Indigenous People's Front of Tripura (IPFT), National People's Party in Meghalaya, Mizo National Front and most other regional parties are strongly opposing the bill, and have demanded its withdrawal.

The shutdown, however, had no considerable impact in Assam's Bengali-majority Barak Valley region comprising the three districts of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi, and normal life was not affected here.

He further said the party will now go to the people and work at the grassroot level and "we appeal to those with whom we had worked for years in the AASU (All Assam Students Union) to protect the interest of the indigenous population (and) to come and join us".

The bandh supporters vandalize the office of BJP at Golaghat.

The objective of NRC is to identify those people who immigrated, illegally, from Bangladesh to Assam after 24 March 1971.

The bill seeks to amend Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian nationality to people from minority communities-Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians-from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 even if they don't possess any proper document.

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