School children protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Aizawl on Thursday

Aizawl: Major civil society groups in Mizoram remained adamant to boycott Republic Day celebrations across the state despite an appeal by state home minister Lalchamliana to withdraw their decision.

The boycott call was given by the NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil society and student bodies in the state, to intensify agitation in the wake of the passage of the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by Lok Sabha on January 8.

Official sources on Thursday said that the home minister convened a meeting with leaders of major civil bodies on Wednesday and asked them to withdraw their decision because Republic Day is an important day that belongs to every citizen of the country and not the Centre alone.

Lalchamliana also asked the NGO leaders to at least respect the constitutional obligation of the state government, officials and government employees and allow them to take part at Republic Day functions even if they are going ahead with their decision.

In a meeting lasted for about an hour, the home minister told the NGO leaders that the state government is strongly against the initiative to pass the controversial citizenship bill and that all political parties and civil bodies in the state are united against the bill as it would have server demographic impact on the entire northeast, including Mizoram, the sources said.

He said that chief minister Zoramthanga had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Rajnath Singh during his visit to the national capital last week and informed them the state government’s strong opposition to the passage of the Bill.

Meanwhile, Vanlalruata, chairman of NGO Coordination Committee, said the committee is adamant in its decision to boycott the Republic Day to oppose the bill. He said that the NGOs would go ahead with their decision but tried their best to avoid violence.

Vanlalruata said that the committee had met Prime Minister, Home Minister and officials Joint Parliamentary Committee last year asking the Centre not to pass the Bill.

He added that the committee decided to boycott the Republic Day celebrations across the state in order to draw the Centre’s attention.

Mizoram is among first Northeastern states to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to grant non-Muslim religious minorities who fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

On June 28 last year, the state legislature had passed a resolution opposing the proposed legislation.

The state cabinet led by chief minister Zoramthanga also had earlier expressed disappointment over the passage of the controversial Bill by the Lok Sabha and resolved to take steps to ensure that the bill is not passed in the Rajya Sabha.

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