The Meghalaya unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has petitioned the central leadership to exempt all the northeastern states from the ambit of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, NDTV reported on Tuesday.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend a 1955 law 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. Most northeastern states have opposed the proposed legislation, and it has sparked several protests in the region.

Meghalaya BJP General Secretary Bashailang Khongwir said the issue is sentimental to the people of the state and the region although the party wishes to pass the bill on humanitarian grounds. The Lok Sabha had passed the legislation on January 8.

Khongwir said that for a multicultural country like India, the bill validates the phrase, “One man’s food is another man’s poison.”

“The impulse of the bill is contrary to the people of northeast India,” said the letter. “It is a sentimental issue in northeast and misconception about the bill has reached such a point where no ground of justification can bring reconciliation over the bill.”

Last month, the BJP in Mizoram had urged the Centre to not go ahead with the Bill in the Rajya Sabha. Ten political parties in the region, including BJP allies, have also unanimously decided to oppose the bill.

Protesters booked for raising anti-India slogans

The Tripura Police on Monday booked a group of people under sedition charges for allegedly raising anti-India slogans at a protest rally organised by tribal bodies against the bill on January 30, PTI reported.

Jirania Sub-Divisional Police Officer Pran Krishna Das said the accused shouted slogans that amounted to sedition. “Around 40 people raised slogans like ‘Bye Bye India, Hello China’, which is not acceptable,” he said. “We are in the process of collecting the video footage and other documents.”

Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra General Secretary Jagadish Debbarma, Movement Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill Convener Anthony Debbarma and Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (Tipraha) President Aghore Debbarma were present at the rally.

“Jagadish Debbarma, Anthony Debbarma and Aghore Debbarma along with their supporters are involved in a criminal conspiracy to promote sedition and hatred between racial groups and for this, they have defied the provisions of Tripura Police Act as well,” said the first information report filed by Sub-Inspector Rathindra Debbarma.

However, the rally organisers said the protest had been peaceful. “A false allegation has been made to suppress the voice of the indigenous people,” said Anthony Debbarma. “I condemn it and it is a violation of freedom of expression.”

Mizoram church body to pray for defeat of bill in Parliament

An umbrella organisation of major churches in Christian-majority Mizoram on Tuesday urged its members to organise mass prayers next week so that the bill is defeated in the Rajya Sabha, PTI reported.

The Mizoram Kohhran Hruaitute Committee appealed to its 16 constituent churches to offer mass prayers during night services on February 16 so that the bill is not introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The committee’s statement said the bill, if passed, would be harmful for the survival of Mizos and is against the principle of secularism as enshrined in the Constitution.