Mizoram Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan on Saturday addressed an almost empty ground in the state capital Aizawl on Republic Day, owing to a boycott call given by the NGO Coordination Committee to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The panel is an umbrella group of civil society and student organisations.
Only ministers, MLAs and other top government officials were present at the function, the police said, according to Northeast Now. No member of the public attended the event. Just six contingents of the Indian Army participated in the Republic Day parade, compared to around 30 every year.
In other districts, divisional commissioners unfurled the tricolour without public participation. The same was the case in sub-divisional and block headquarters, the police added.
People protested against the Citizenship Bill with placards, at several Republic Day venues in the state. However, there were no incidences of violence.
In his speech, Rajasekharan said the government will take stringent steps to protect Mizoram’s borders, and initiate welfare schemes for the people living in border areas. He said the government is committed to preserving the Mizo identity. “This government will endeavour to work for the unity and brotherhood of all Mizo people living within India and across the globe within our constitutional framework,” the governor said according to The Northeast Today.
The Socio-Economic Development Policy will be introduced in the state, Rajasekharan added. He described it as a “holistic inclusive development programme aimed at bringing in socioeconomic transformation”, which would accelerate the state’s growth.
The governor added that the government will reimpose the ban on liquor in the state, and work towards making Mizoram “the cleanest state in India”.
The Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, earlier this month. The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. Those who do not possess required documents are also eligible for citizenship.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga had on Thursday said that the ruling Mizo National Front will not hesitate to cut ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party-led North East Democratic Alliance government if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is not revoked.
Earlier, Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had called a meeting of all political parties in the state on January 28 to discuss the bill.