Manipur filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma returns his 2006 Padma Shri protesting against Citizenship Bill

Manipuri filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma on Sunday returned his 2006 Padma Shri award in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The 82-year-old made the announcement in Imphal, NDTV reported.

Sharma has directed 11 feature films, and 27 non-feature films. He debuted in the Manipuri film scene as an actor in the first Manipuri film ‘Matamgi Manipur’ in 1972. Late president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam had conferred the award to the filmmaker for his contribution to cinema in 2006.

 Manipur filmmaker Aribam Syam Sharma returns his 2006 Padma Shri protesting against Citizenship Bill

File image of Aribam Syam Sharma. Wikimedia Commons

Hindustan Times quoted Sharma as saying that the state has only one or two MPs in a house of 500 plus members. He questioned what voice can the northeast have in Parliament.

"They should respect us as a state — small or big. It should not be counted on a population basis. I raise this because the Union of India is made up of states," he said. "When the northeastern states jointly represent or present something in the government, they should consider it and if they do not consider, naturally we have to oppose."

"So, as part of showing solidarity, I decided to return the award," he said.

The development comes as the seven Northeastern states — Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Nagaland, Mizoram, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya — have unitedly opposed the Bill. The controversial bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on 8 January, seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

Protests have broken out across all the states, including activists of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) staging a semi-clad protest in Tezpur town of Sonitpur district in lower Assam.

BJP spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora on 8 January resigned from all posts of the party in protest against the development. "I oppose the Citizenship Amendment Bill. I truly feel that it will harm Assamese society," Bora said in his resignation letter.

He added that the Bill will bring a crisis to Assamese language and culture and will "completely nullify the Assam Accord."

In Guwahati, a citizens' protest meeting was organised, at which prominent personalities from the Assam Sahitya Sabha, AJYCP, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), among others, spoke against the bill and demanded that it be scrapped.

Six student organisations in Manipur — All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU), Democratic Students' Alliance of Manipur (DESAM), Manipur Students' Federation (MSF), Kangleipak Students' Association (KSA), Students' Union of Kangleipak (SUK) and Socialist Students' Union of Manipur observed a "Black Day" on 13 January at various places.

Meanwhile, in Tripura, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the  Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) have been clamped for an indefinite period at Madhabbari and adjacent areas, where at least seven people were injured when Citizenship Bill protesters clashed with police on 9 January. This came after NESO, a joint platform of eight student organisations, including the TSF, had called for an 11-hour-long northeast bandh to protest against the Bill.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Feb 04, 2019 08:10:38 IST