Anti-CAB protests in parts of country as Centre readies to table bill in Parliament; North East bandh called on 11 Dec

  • Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and a nationwide NRC have intensified with rallies and marches being held in Delhi, Assam, Manipur and parts of India over the weekend

  • More such protests are planned, starting from Monday, the day the contentious bill set to be tabled in the Parliament by Union Home Minister Amit Shah

  • Some groups in the North East have already called for a bandh in Assam on 9 December and a region-wide bandh on 10 December against the Bill

Protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and a nationwide NRC have intensified with rallies and marches being held in Delhi, Assam, Manipur and parts of India over the weekend, and several more planned to start from Monday, the day the contentious bill set to be tabled in the Parliament.

Some groups in the North East have already called for a bandh in Assam on 9 December and a region-wide bandh on 10 December against the Bill.

The CAB will grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after seven years of stay in the country even if they do not possess proper documents. While Opposition leaders and activists have slammed the Bill, terming it "anti-constitutional" and "divisive" aimed to alienate the Muslims in the country, in the North East, especially Assam, the bill is seen as a threat to the interests of the region's indigenous communities.

According to The New Indian Express, people came out in large numbers in Manipur's Imphal Valley, to take part in a protest spearheaded by Manipur People Against CAB (MANPAC). Whereas in Assam, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) held a torch rally in Guwahati to protest against CAB on Sunday, ANI said. Similar protests were held on Saturday as well. Protests were also held in Bengaluru and Hyderabad against CAB on Sunday.

"The Narendra Modi government is imposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on the people of the Northeastern region in the interest of its vote bank. It wants to make illegal Bangladeshis Indian citizens to use them as the BJP's vote bank," AASU chief advisor Dr Samujjal Bhattacharya had told a press conference on Saturday. “Assam is not the dustbin for illegal immigrants. The BJP at Centre is bent on bringing the legislation based on its numbers in Parliament. We will not accept it and continue protests,” he added. According to Telegraph, the Dibrugarh district administration had on Saturday cancelled a concert by Zubeen Garg in the Upper Assam town on Sunday because of security reasons, in view of protests against CAB. According to ANI, a protest against CAB in Assam's Dibrugarh turned violent on Sunday as some miscreants vandalised the office of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an ally of BJP in the state. Nearly 100 protesters barged into AGP's office when the party was holding a meeting with its workers. "There was a meeting when they came. No one was injured but they broke chairs and computers," Taranath Buragohain, vice president Dibrugarh AGP told ANI.

Protests mark Saturday in Delhi

According to PTI, people had gathered at the Jantar Mantar against CAB and NRC on Saturday as well. Organised by an NGO named United Against Hate, the protesters were carrying placards with slogans like: 'Reject CAB! Boycott NRC!', 'India need jobs, education and health care, not nationwide NRC!' Students from different universities, including JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and the Aligarh Muslim University, as well as members of the All India Students' Association (AISA), joined the protest. "Today, people called for a protest against the NRC and CAB because it is against the constitution, anti-poor, anti-minority. This government has chosen a way to spread hate in the name of NRC and CAB," said N Sai Balaji, former president of the Jawaharlal Nehru Students' Union.

"Around 300 JNU students have come here. We have also called for a joint protest on Sunday at Ambedkar Bhawan," Balaji said.

Citizens Against NRC and CAB, a social media collective mobilised by activists like retired IAS officer Kannan Gopinathan, has announced on Twitter that similar protests will be held in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata and other cities over the next few days.

Bandh called in northeastern states

The North East Students' Organisation (NESO), the umbrella organisation of all North East students' bodies, has given a call for a bandh across the North East from 5 am to 4 pm on Tuesday (10 December) against the Bill. Nagaland has been exempted from the purview of the bandh in view of the ongoing Hornbill Festival there.

AASU has said that protests will intensify in the coming week with the party observing a bandh in the state, along with other states of the region on Tuesday while the AASU workers will go for a hunger strike on 13 December.

Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal would also be burnt, it said.

On Sunday, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) endorsed the decision to observe bandh on Tuesday in the northeastern states and appealed to the people of the state to support the agitation.

Terming the Bill as an attempt by the Centre to disintegrate the people of the region, AAPSU vice president Mije Taku said that the stand of the AAPSU on CAB is clear from day one.

"The AAPSU, a constituent of the NESO, has directed all its federal units in the state to arrange requisite manpower for successful implementation of the bandh and we have appealed to the people to voluntarily cooperate with us and support the bandh," Taku told a press conference.

In Assam, as many as 16 left-leaning organisations, including SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF, AISA and IPTA, demanded "scrapping of the Bill" and also called for "the 12-hour Assam bandh" from 5 am on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and its sister organisations have extended their support to the Assam bandh, called by 16 left-leaning organisations and the NESO, KMSS Adviser Akhil Gogoi said at a press conference on Sunday.

KMSS has also extended its support to the 12-hour Assam bandh on Monday, called by various tribal students' bodies such as Sootea, Moran and Koch-Rajbongshi, he said.

The Assam State Jamiat Ulama also supported the North East bandh, called by the NESO on Tuesday.

The CAB would not be applicable to Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram where inner line permit (ILP) system exists and those tribal regions of Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

On this, Taku said, the AAPSU being a constituent of the NESO would oppose it as the bill would greatly affect other states of the region where Sixth Schedule is not in force.

"We are opposing the bill since day one and despite several meetings, the central leadership did not pay heed to the concern of the people of North East," Taku said.

The ILP is a special permit required by people from outsiders to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The CAB will grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after seven years of stay in the country even if they do not possess proper documents.

The indigenous people of the Northeastern states fear that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2019 07:29:16 IST