There were mass protests in Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland on Thursday against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Union Home Minister Amit Shah said that this law will be introduced in the new session of Parliament.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to amend the 1955 law to give citizenship to the Muslim-majority nations of Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians to stay in India for six years. It was passed by the previous Lok Sabha, but was not introduced in the Rajya Sabha. The bill expired after the Lok Sabha term ended in May but was not introduced in the budget session in July.
In Kohima, thousands of people from various Naga tribes took out a protest rally. The protesters, who gathered under the banner of the Joint Committee for the Protection of Indigenous Peoples, Nagaland, and the North East Forum of Indigenous Peoples, submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister of Nagaland, Neiphiu Rio.
In the memorandum, protesters said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was “like the sword of Dumocles” hanging on the heads of all indigenous tribes of the northeast region. He urged the Chief Minister to take up the matter with the Central Government. The protesters said that the Center should respect the sentiments of the people of the area. He also warned of widespread opposition when the bill is passed.
The Joint Committee on Protection of Indigenous People of Nagaland asked the Chief Ministers of all the states in the North East to unite and oppose the bill. According to PTI, “Currently, Dimapur has three to four lakh illegal possession, and the final National Register of Citizens is being published on August 31 in Assam, it is going to increase further.” “Once the CAB takes place, these occupations will become natural and Nagaland will not be uniform.”
“We should speak in one voice and ask the Center to listen to it,” said Theja Theresh, vice president of the North East Forum of Indigenous People. Outfit Secretary General Robertjun Kharajahrin said that he has decided to challenge the law before the Supreme Court. He said that the Bill violated Article 14 of the Constitution. Khanjarin compared the passing of the law with an act of genocide. “We will also file a complaint at the United Nations,” he said.
In Imphal, civil society members and students protested amid tight security. The protesters staged, raised slogans and formed human chains. No untoward incident was reported from any part of Manipur.
The North East Forum of Indigenous People also organized a rally in Shillong. The organization claimed that the proposed legislation was intended to wipe out indigenous tribes from the area. In Assam, the All-Assam Students Union stated that the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to foreigners on the basis of religion was unconstitutional as India is a secular country.