North East erupts in protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: SMS, internet suspended in Tripura; protests in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal throw normal life out of gear

  • A day after the Lok Sabha passed the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after lengthy debates, several regions in North East witnessed strident protests.

  • An 11-hour North East bandh called by an umbrella body of students' organisations of the region to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) began at 5 am on Tuesday.

  • In Assam, students were seen marching with torch flames and banners seeking the withdrawal of the Bill

  • Authorities in Tripura have suspended SMS and mobile internet connectivity for 48 hours, starting from 2 pm on Tuesday

A day after the Lok Sabha passed the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after lengthy debates, several regions in North East witnessed strident protests against the law.

An 11-hour North East bandh called by an umbrella body of students’ organisations of the region to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) began at 5 am on Tuesday. The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), backed by various other bodies and political parties, will observe the shutdown till 4 pm against the Bill.

In Assam, students were marched with torch flames and banners seeking the withdrawal of the Bill.

The protests come even as the revised Citizenship (Amendment) Bill excluded all states with an Inner Line Permit (Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland) and the Sixth Schedule regions in Tripura, Assam, and Meghalaya. This was seen as an attempt to placate the residents of the North East, where an earlier version of the Bill had faced vociferous opposition in January. The Bill had then lapsed as it was not introduced in the Rajya Sabha. It will be tabled in the Upper House on Wednesday for further discussion at 2 pm.

Assam

In Assam's Brahmaputra Valley, normal life came to a halt owing to a statewide bandh called by students' unions and Left-democratic organisations. The shutdown, led by the All Assam Students' Union and the North East Students' Organisation, has coincided with the bandh called by Left-leaning organisations, including SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF and AISA. The strike, however, did not have much impact on the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley.

In Maligaon area of Guwahati, a government-run bus was pelted with stones and a scooter was set on fire, sources said. Shops, markets and business establishments kept shutters down, while educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, official sources stated. Huge processions were taken out in different areas of Guwahati, with protesters raising slogans against the Bill. Due to the protests, Gauhati University and Dibrugarh University in the state have postponed all examinations scheduled for Wednesday.

 North East erupts in protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill: SMS, internet suspended in Tripura; protests in Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal throw normal life out of gear

Demonstrators burn tyres and raise slogans during a strike called by All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the North East Students Organisation (NESO) in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati. PTI

Tripura

In Tripura, protesters took a dig at the chief minister on Tuesday and shouted slogans of "Biplab Deb Bangladeshi, go back, go back," reported The Indian Express. Deb has ancestral roots in Bangladesh's Chandpur, and his father Hirudhan Deb migrated to India during the 1971 war.

Authorities in Tripura have suspended SMS and mobile internet connectivity for 48 hours, starting from 2 pm on Tuesday. A government notification, issued by the Additional Secretary to the Government of Tripura AK Bhattacharya said, "It has been noticed that SMS, WhatsApp and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are being widely used for transmission of fake images and videos as well as text messages which have potential to incite violence in the state at a larger rate... Therefore, in order to prevent the misuse of the above mentioned media to disturb the peace and tranquility of the entire state and for maintaining the law and order situation... is hereby directed to promulgate this notification under the provision of Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 to prohibit the following types of media for the next 48 hours beginning from 1400 hours on 10 December, 2019 in the entire state of Tripura."

Protesters set a market, where shops were owned mostly by non-tribals, on fire in Dhalai district, police said. However, no one was injured in the incident and the blaze at Manughat market was doused, a senior police officer said. "Security forces have been deployed in the market but the incident has created fear among the non-tribals who owned most of the shops," the officer said.

The protests have thrown normal life out of gear in Dhalai, West Tripura and Khowai districts with residents remaining indoors while attendance in offices was thin, he said. Train services in the entire state came to a complete halt and vehicular movement was affected too, PTI quoted the officer as saying. Educational institutions, banks, commercial establishments and markets were closed while public and private vehicles were off the roads in most places of Arunachal Pradesh in response to the strike called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU).

Attendance in government offices was almost nil during the bandh which began at 5 am, officials said.

Arunachal Pradesh

The All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU) announced an 11-hour statewide bandh in support of the North East Students' Organisation's (NESO) protest. Addressing the media, AAPSU vice-president Meje Taku said, "The AAPSU stands with the NESO and the people of the Northeast region in the fight against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The AAPSU is with the NESO's decision to shut down the North East against the Centre for passing the Bill in Lok Sabha."

"The shutdown is for the cause of the North East's indigenous people and the greater interest of the region. We appeal to every individual to support the NESO and the AAPSU movement." "The BJP government at the Centre passed the Bill despite strong opposition from the northeastern states," he added.

Taku further said, "Although Union Home Minister Amit Shah has assured that the CAB would not be applicable to Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime states like Arunachal, Mizoram, and Nagaland, AAPSU's stance on the matter is very clear and it will stand with NESO and its decision." Educational institutions, banks, commercial establishments and markets were closed while public and private vehicles were off the roads in most places of Arunachal Pradesh in response to the strike called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students' Union (AAPSU). Attendance in government offices was almost nil during the bandh which began at 5 am, officials said.

Manipur

The Manipur People Against CAB (Manpac), which was spearheading the agitation in the state, has announced a suspension of its stir on Monday after Union home minister Amit Shah said the state would be brought under Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime. However, the All Moran Students' Union (AMSU) is supporting the bandh called by NESO in Manipur. Former national general secretary of NSUI Angellica Aribam, responding to a tweet which claimed Imphal is joyous after Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, tweeted and said, "Getting 5-6 BJP workers to jump around doesn't make Imphal joyous. The reality is that the streets are completely desolated and all shops are shut due to bandh called by AMSU & NESO. How do I know? Because I'm actually here in Imphal."

The All Manipur Students' Union (AMSU) observed a total shutdown in the state from 3 am to 6 pm, with the organisation warning that it would intensify its agitation if the bill was not immediately withdrawn.

Meghalaya

Incidents of tyre-burning and vandalising vehicles were reported in capital Shillong as protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails at a police vehicle damaging it in Mawlai area, East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner M W Nongbri told PTI. Additional police and CRPF forces have been deployed in sensitive areas, officials said.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Dec 10, 2019 19:22:32 IST