Mizoram NGO coordination committee to boycott Republic Day

Aizawl: Civil society groups in Mizoram have threatened to boycott the upcoming Republic Day celebrations in the state to protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, sources said on Tuesday.

The powerful NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil societies and student bodies of the state, convened a joint meeting on Monday and unanimously decided to demonstrate their strong opposition to the bill, committee chairman and Young Mizo Association president Vanlalruata said.

Vanlalruata said that the coordination committee, comprising Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Upa Pawl (MUP) or Mizo Elders’ Association, Mizo Hmeichhe Insuihkhawm Pawl (MHIP) or Mizo Women’s Association, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) or Mizo Students’ Federation and Mizo Students’ Union (MSU), took strong exception to the passage of the bill by Lok Sabha despite massive protests across the Northeast region.

Vanlalruata said that the coordination committee had earlier written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh and submitted a memorandum to the Joint Parliamentary Committee asking the Centre not to pass the Bill.

“We are very disappointed because the Centre ignored our plea and went ahead with the amendment to the Citizenship Act, 1955,” he said.

He said that the Bill, if enacted, is harmful for the entire northeast including Mizoram, as many illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries would be granted Indian citizenship.

“The bill is dangerous for Mizoram as there are many illegal Buddhist or Chakma migrants from Bangladesh, who are currently living in the state,” he said.

He said that the coordination committee has decided to intensify its agitation and boycott the upcoming Republic Day to have the Bill scrapped.

The NGO Coordination Committee has meanwhile appealed to the people, all government employees and students to stay away from Republic Day functions and support the boycott call.

The committee is the most influential civil group in the state headed by Young Mizo Association (YMA), the largest civil society organisation in Mizoram.

On Tuesday, officials said that the state government would go ahead with the Republic Day celebrations despite a boycott called by civil society groups.

Security would be tightened across the state during the Republic Day celebrations, a police officer said.

Meanwhile, Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), state’s apex student body, has decided to stage a rally on Wednesday to protest against the Citizenship Bill.

The rally will be held across the state at 11 am, MZP president L Ramdinliana said.

The NGO coordination committee and various political parties have extended support to the proposed protest rally on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) has also decided to boycott the Republic Day celebrations to protest against the passage of the Citizenship Bill.

A statement issued by the anti-corruption watchdog turned political party said a meeting of the party office bearers on Tuesday decided to boycott the Republic Day and display black flags in the party office on that day as a part of protest against the bid to amend the Citizenship Bill.

Terming the Bill “dangerous”, the party also said that it would write to Rajya Sabha chairman to ensure that it is not passed in the house.

The Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Parsis, Buddhist, Christians and Jains from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who entered the country till Decemeber 31, 2014 was passed by Lok Sabha on January 8.

The Bill is likely to be tabled in the Rajya Sabha in its next session to be held from January 31.

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