A group of organisations called for a 24-hour strike in Manipur on Thursday to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, PTI reported. The strike was called by the Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is a collective of 66 organisations.
Protestors staged demonstrations in the state capital of Imphal, in Thoubal and Lilong towns in Thoubal district, and Churachandpur and Kangpokpi districts.
The Citizenship (Amendment) 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. The groups have demanded that the bill be withdrawn.
Educational institutes and commercial establishments remained closed in many districts in Manipur, while vehicles stayed off the roads. Security personnel were deployed across the state.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh on Wednesday appealed to the people of the state not to panic over the Bill. Singh was the first among the four BJP chief ministers of northeastern states to raise concerns over the bill.
Biren Singh said he will meet Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to review the decision on passing the bill, The Week reported. Rajnath Singh is likely to meet the BJP chief ministers from North East states in Delhi this week.
Students from Manipur burned effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi near the Parliament on Wednesday, Imphal Free Press reported. Around 200 students had gathered at Jantar Mantar in Delhi under the banner of six students’ organisations to protest against the bill. The police in the national capital detained at least 60 students for burning Modi’s effigy.
“We demand immediate withdrawal of the Bill which threatens the identity of our own people,” said student leader Milan, according to Northeast Now.
Protests in Assam, Tripura
In Assam, students organisations, the Asom Gana Parishad and the All Assam Students’ Union are likely to stage another massive demonstration next week, according to The Week. “Under no circumstances, we would let the bill implement in our land,” said Asom Gana Parishad President Atul Bora. “The BJP would have to pay a heavy price for it.”
Meanwhile, families of those who were killed in the Assam Agitation between 1979 and 1985 have decided to return honours conferred on them by the Assam government as an act of protest against the bill, according to The Sentinel. The BJP led government in the state had honoured the families with Rs 5 lakh and a memento in 2016.
In Tripura, several tribal political parties united under the leadership of Tripura Congress Working President Pradyot Manikya Deb Barman to protest against the BJP government in the state over the Citizenship Amendment Bill, reported NDTV.
A massive protest rally was organised at Khumulwng, the headquarters of the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous Territorial Council, on Wednesday. “Entire Tripura is against the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” Barman said. “This doesn’t have to do anything with religion, community or any other identity. This vote bank politics is being played by the (central) government at Delhi. This bill will divide our society.” He was addressing a gathering of around 15,000 people at Khumulwng.
Barman said it was a non-political rally without banners or flags.
On Tuesday, former Tripura legislator and BJP leader Rajeshwar Debbarma resigned from the party’s primary membership in protest against the bill and police action on a group of protesters which left three people injured in West Tripura on January 8.
“BJP-led NDA government has clearly shown its real face of racial discrimination and ill attitudes to the indigenous people of Tripura by means of passing Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 on the floor of the House of Lok Sabha,” Debbarma said in a letter to BJP state president and Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, according to The Indian Express.