Protests against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government’s Citizenship Amendment Bill continued in several parts of Assam. The Lok Sabha had passed the controversial bill on January 8.
The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years, even if they do not possess the necessary documents.
Activists of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad staged a semi-nude protest in Tezpur, a group of women staged a demonstration in Tinsukia and a citizens’ group organised a meeting in Guwahati, PTI reported.
Some demonstrators in Tezpur also protested in front of the deputy commissioner’s office and shouted slogans against Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and state Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. They also demanded to know from Prime Minister Narendra Modi how the people of Assam and the country had benefitted from demonetisation.
The North East has been in a state of turmoil because of violence against the controversial draft law. In Assam, the Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition in protest against the Citizenship Bill in the first week of January. Three Asom Gana Parishad state ministers later quit the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, former lawmaker and Hailakandi District Congress President Rahul Roy quit from the party’s primary membership to protest its opposition to the Bill, Northeast Now reported. “Now you are going to take an anti-Hindu Bengali agenda in the state opposing the citizenship bill which as a District President, I can’t accept,” Roy said. “I also oppose it, because first of all I am Hindu Bengali, and I cannot go against my religion and caste.”
Bill discussed at Opposition rally in West Bengal
Mizoram’s Zoram Nationalist Party leader Lalduhawma on Saturday said the “North East was burning” because of the draft law, PTI reported. He was speaking at the “United India” rally organised in Kolkata by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
“If the bill was enacted, India will no longer be the place that it used to be,” Lalduhawma said. “We want a secular government at the Centre, so that this bill was withdrawn or exemption must be given to the north east,” he said.
Banerjee, Trinamool Congress chief, said her party is against the draft law too.
Former Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister and BJP leader Gegong Apang said the bill had divided the North East, Northeast Now reported. “I want to give a warning to the Prime Minister that the Citizenship Bill should be withdrawn,” Apang said. “If not, India will not be a suitable place for people of the Northeast.”