Five local political parties on Friday called for a dawn-to-dusk shutdown in Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council on January 12 as part of their protest against the police firing during protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Tuesday. The parties have demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident that occurred on Tuesday.
Authorities had on Wednesday imposed prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in Madhabbari and nearby areas, where at least seven people were injured in the violence.
Political and student outfits had organised a shutdown in the North East states on Tuesday in protest against the controversial Bill. The Lok Sabha passed the bill that evening amid protests by Opposition MPs.
The five parties are the Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, Twipra State Party, National Conference of Tripura and Tripura Peoples Party. They have demanded the resignations of Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, an inquiry by a sitting judge of Tripura High Court, Rs 25 lakh as compensation to all the injured protestors or a government job for them. They also sought the withdrawal of cases filed against protestors.
On Thursday, the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government had ordered a magisterial inquiry into the incident at Madhabbari and imposed a ban on SMS and mobile internet services in the state. The same day, the police extended the prohibitory orders for the region by 48 hours.
Earlier on Thursday, the state’s Tribal Welfare minister and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura General Secretary Mevar Kumar Jamatiya had claimed that the Opposition Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra had misled the protestors about the bill and worsened the situation in the state.
Meanwhile, the CPI(M) has urged the political parties to revoke the call for a bandh. “It [bandh] could further aggravate the situation in the state,” Communist Party of India (Marxist) Central Committee member Bijan Dhar said on Friday.
BJP spokesperson Nabendu Bhattacharya said his party would oppose the bandh as its organisers were trying to increase the unrest in the state.
The North East Students’ Organisation said the BJP-led state administration had prevented its delegation from visiting four of those injured in the firing, NorthEast News reported.
Meanwhile, protests continued in Assam on Friday. A man removed his clothes in front of the deputy commissioner’s office at Jorhat to protest against the sedition charges filed against academic Hiren Gohain, PTI reported. He shouted “Joi Aai Asom” (glory to mother Assam) as he stripped, and alleged that the government is playing “dirty politics” by registering the sedition charges. Some protestors had staged nude protests on Monday too.
The police had filed a sedition case against Gohain, anti-corruption activist Akhil Gogoi and former journalist Manjit Mahanta on Thursday in connection with the protests. The Gauhati High Court granted them interim bail on Friday, which also saw BJP leader Pradip Dutta courting controversy by threatening Assamese speaking students in the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley. Dutta warned the students that they would not be admitted to the Assam University in Silchar if they keep protesting, PTI reported.
“I warn the Assamese students of the university that you study only and don’t indulge in politics,” local news channels quoted the BJP leader as saying. “Think about the future. We then will be forced to bar admission of Assamese students in the university. I am writing to the vice-chancellor of the university asking him what step he is taking against the students for opposing the bill.”
Members of Assam Accord panel decline offer
As the protests continued in Assam, four of the nine members of a committee formed by the Centre to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord declined to be a part of it, PTI reported.
According to Clause 6, the Centre has to enact constitutional, legislative and administrative measures to protect, preserve and promote cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the state’s indigenous communities. The Assam Accord was signed in 1985 between the government and the leaders of the Assam Movement, which was launched in 1979 to identify and deport undocumented immigrants.
Eminent litterateurs Nagen Saikia and Rongbong Terang – both former presidents of premier literary body Axom Xahitya Xabha – and academic Mukunda Rajbongshi decided to opt out. In a letter to the joint secretary (North East) of the ministry of home affairs, Saikia said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was against the secular spirit of the country and Assam would lose its linguistic and cultural identity if it is pushed through.
Guwahati-based journalist Dhiren Bezbaruah has cited his inability to be a part of the committee due to his advanced age.
Protestors attack fire service personnel from Odisha in Meghalaya
Protestors attacked a bus carrying personnel of the Odisha Fire Services in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district on Thursday night, PTI reported. The 22-member team is deployed to assist in the operation to rescue the 15 miners trapped in a coal mine in the district since December 13. Protestors had imposed a road blockade to oppose the draft bill.
Superintendent of Police, Sylvester Nongtynger said the window of the bus was partially damaged and the occupants were unharmed.
The attack came on a day the state government run by the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance, which has two ministers from the BJP, passed a resolution opposing the Citizenship Bill, PTI reported. The saffron party’s state leadership has backed the protests by “the indigenous people” of the state.
“We are with the people of the state,” said Health Minister AL Hek, who is from the BJP. “The state cabinet had unanimously passed a resolution to oppose the Bill and we are part of the government.” He said he would not resign from the party over the matter. “People have voted for me,” Hek added. “They have entrusted me with responsibilities as their representative and I will continue to serve in that capacity.”
Former Assam CM vows to violate prohibitory order against protests
Congress leader and former Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday said he would violate prohibitory orders imposed in the state if the Bharatiya Janata Party-led administration does not revoke the draft law.
“I will violate [Section] 144 [of the Code of Criminal Procedure] if you [Centre] do not withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” Gogoi said. “I will lead people and shout slogans.”
On Thursday, authorities had imposed prohibitory orders in parts of Guwahati’s East Police District amid protests against the bill in Assam.
Manipur CM asks PM Modi to keep state out of new law’s purview
Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Thursday asked the Union government to keep the BJP-ruled state out of the draft bill’s purview, NorthEast News reported. A statement from the state government said the Manipur Cabinet had asked the Centre to approve the Manipur People’s (Protection) Bill, 2018, instead. The bill defines Manipuris and non-Manipuris and seeks to regulate their entry and exit to protect local people.
The chief minister has reportedly left for Delhi to discuss the matter with Modi.