Itanagar: The Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) took to the streets of the capital, shouted slogans against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill and waved black flags at Prime Minister Narendra Modi who arrived in Itanagar on Saturday to inaugurate and lay down the foundation stone of several projects.
As the PM travelled from Raj Bhavan to Indira Gandhi (IG) Park to attend the inauguration programme, slogans such as “Modi go back”, “Scrap Citizenship (Amendment) Bill”, “Pema Khandu hai hai” and “Narendra Modi hai hai” rent the air.
The Congress protesters tried to march towards the Tennis Court at IG Park to stage a sit-in protest; however, the demonstrators were restricted midway by the paramilitary and police forces on duty.
Some of the protestors, however, resorted to climbing over the barricade in an attempt to approach IG Park which led to a tug of war between them and the security forces. This eventually also disrupted the traffic movement.
It was reported that an ambulance carrying a patient got stuck for around half an hour due to the tussle and traffic congestion that followed it and for which the APCC was quick to tender an apology.
Interacting with media persons later on the day, APCC spokesperson Toko Meena said that the Congress will never allow the “contentious Bill” to be imposed in the state and would fight against it till the same is not withdrawn.
“The ‘draconian bill’ is unconstitutional, discriminatory and particularly against the indigenous people of the state and Northeast. It will endanger the existence of indigenous people and create communal disharmony in the entire region,” said Meena.
The Congress spokesperson also came down heavily on chief minister Pema Khandu led state government for only black topping the road from Raj Bhavan to IG Park overnight in an attempt to impress Modi and at the same time fool the public.
“The state government has only mended the stretch of road where the PM travelled today, whereas the truth is one cannot walk or drive properly within the Capital Complex due to the pathetic condition of its streets,” Meena said.
The Congress also said that Modi’s intention to visit Arunachal a few months prior to the general elections was nothing else but an attempt to garner votes by befooling the innocent people again.
The Congress workers later launched around 4,000 black balloons in the sky from the Niti Vihar, DDK and RWD colonies while PM Modi was addressing the people.
Meanwhile, the students of Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU) also boycotted PM Modi’s visit to Itanagar in protest against the Citizenship Bill and staged demonstrations at the campus.
The protest at the university campus was carried out under the banner of RGU Students’ Union and supported by North East Students’ Organisation and All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union.
Wearing black clothing and carrying placards and black flags, a large number of students participated in a protest rally organized at the RGU campus early in the morning and shouted slogans against PM Modi. They later also burnt his effigy.
A similar protest was also staged by the students of Himalaya University.
The Citizenship Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who entered India till December 31, 2014 from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, after six years of continuous stay in India. It was passed in the Lok Sabha last month and is likely to come up in the Rajya Sabha next week.
Those opposed to the Bill see it as a threat to the culture, identity and language of the people of the Northeast.