Singer Papon on Thursday cancelled his concert scheduled for Friday in Delhi, saying his “home state Assam is burning, crying and under curfew”.
Protests against the amendments to the Citizenship Act intensified in Assam and other northeastern states after Parliament cleared the bill on Wednesday. Thousands of protestors in Assam took to the streets in defiance of a curfew imposed. The suspension of mobile internet services in 10 districts was extended for another 48 hours from noon, and around 300 demonstrators were detained earlier in the day.
“Dear Delhi. I am very sorry but I have decided not to do the concert tomorrow at ‘imperfectoshor’ as planned,” the singer tweeted. “My home state Assam is burning, crying and under curfew! I won’t be able to entertain you the way I should in my present state of mind.”
“I know this is unfair on you as you had bought tickets and planned long ahead,” he added. “I am sure the organizers will take care of that in someway and as promised I’ll see you all on another day in future! I hope you will understand.”
Papon said Assam has been burdened with illegal immigration for decades and the state does not deserve the amendments to the Citizenship Act of 1955. “The diverse, complex mix of the Assamese culture, people and their existence needs to be understood! We need to be heard properly,” he said.
National Award winning filmmaker Jahnu Barua has also decided to withdraw his film from the 8th Assam State Film Awards and this year’s film festival in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The amended law proposes to grant citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, provided they have resided in India for six years. The cut-off date is December 31, 2014.
Groups in the North East fear that once the amendments are notified, local populations defined as indigenous to the region will be culturally and physically swamped by migrants.
The bill’s critics are against using religion as the basis of providing citizenship and have asked why Muslims were left out. They have also questioned why other neighbouring countries such as Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka were left out of the ambit of the law.