Why is the northeast protesting against the Citizenship Bill

Updated: 18 December, 2019 07:35 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

The northeast is protesting because this bill grants citizenship to ordinary refugees and will thus undermine the ethnic communities and the culture of the people living in the area.


The northeast region of the country has been witnessing a lot of protests as people took to the streets to express their sentiments against the Citizenship Amendment Bill which provides Indian nationality to six communities: Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Jains and Buddhists who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, till December 31, 2014, and facing religious persecution there.

The northeast is protesting because this bill grants citizenship to ordinary refugees and will thus undermine the ethnic communities and the culture of the people living in the area.

The protestors also say the bill goes against India's constitution and will allow a lot of foreigners in a region which has an influx of illegal Bangladeshis.

Assam, particularly witnessed heavy turmoil. People defied the curfew in Guwahati on Thursday morning to protest the Bill as the situation remained tense throughout Assam, with the Army conducting flag march in the city.

An indefinite curfew has been imposed on Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Tezpur and Dhekiajuli, while night curfew is in force on Jorhat, Tinsukia, Golaghat and Charaideo districts. Damayanti Deka, 70, said she decided to hit the streets despite her frailties for the larger cause of the Assamese community.
"I am old and I cannot even walk properly. Still, I have come out because it is about my existence and identity," Deka told PTI.

She said the curfew has caused inconvenience but her family is ready to bear it for the "betterment of the state" as the bill will "endanger" the Assamese community. The septuagenarian held a placard that read: "We don't want CAB". Another Ulubari resident, Mayuri Bora, who is in her mid-30s, said the central government has committed a mistake by clearing the citizenship bill.
"It will jeopardise the state's development. How can someone talk about development by bringing in more illegal immigrants. We do not want them," she said. Bora said she is finding it difficult to run her kitchen, as shops were closed after the indefinite curfew was imposed.

Tamal Roy, who was on board the Donyi Polo Express from Itanagar, reached Guwahati station on Thursday morning, where he had to keep waiting as auto-rickshaws turned him down, citing the closure of fuel depots. Roy told PTI that he and two other passengers finally managed to get hold of one auto-rickshaw, which took them to a particular point from where they had to travel on foot to
reach their destination.

Anil Barua, a Dibrugarh resident, said the protests should not turn violent since it will derail the main objective. "If violence takes place, the administration will be strict and we will not be able to convince them regarding the withdrawal of the bill. The curfew is a result of violence," he said.

The administration had suspended mobile Internet services for 24 hours from 7 pm on Wednesday in ten districts of Assam: Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dhemaji, Dibrugarh, Charaideo, Sivasagar, Jorhat, Golaghat, Kamrup (metro) and Kamrup.

North East Students' Organization (NESO) and Leaders of AASU said that December 12 will be observed as 'Black Day' every year in protest.

On the other hand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to assure that the bill will have no impact on the citizens and the government will not take away their rights, identity and culture.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday and by the Lok Sabha in a midnight sitting little past on Monday. President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, on Thursday night, letting it become an Act.

(with inputs from agencies)

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First Published: 13 December, 2019 12:35 IST

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