Protestors holding ‘Hello Independence’ placards during protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Aizawl on Tuesday

Aizawl: For the past few months, protests in Mizoram have shown a general perception among Mizo tribals that they are “being neglected” by the Centre, a reason for which they have been “inclined” to turn towards China or other neighbouring countries seeking assistance.

On several occasions, protesters were seen holding placards hinting the “desire’ to secede from India. The reason, however, was clear as the majority Mizos believed that the “secessionist protest” would draw attention from the Centre so that their voices are heard.

After a “Hello China Bye Bye India” protest spearheaded by the state’s apex student body the Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) on January 23 against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, Mizoram on Tuesday witnessed yet another statewide “black day protest” in which protesters, including party leaders were seen carrying several placards that reads “Welcome Independent Republic of Mizoram” and “Hello Independence”.

There is a growing feeling among Mizos that India does not care about them anymore, and the Centre is just dictating terms from miles away instead of trying to know the pulse of the people and the region.

The Mizo people felt that they were “being neglected” by the Centre and that it is better to seek assistance from China instead of being part of India.

The Centre does not have concern for the Mizos and often paid a deaf year to their voices were such allegations levelled by civil societies.

Former Mizoram CM and Congress leader Lal Thanhawla at a protest rally organised by the NGO Coordination Committee in Aizawl against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

In Mizoram, which witnessed secessionist movement for 20 years between 1966 and 1986, the desire of becoming an “Independent” have already taken ground among the youths with the growing perception of being shown a step-motherly treatment by the Centre.

Responding to a call given by NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of all major civil societies and students bodies in the state, hundreds of protesters took to street observing “protest day” on Tuesday amid speculation that the citizenship bill would be tabled in Rajya Sabha. The house, however, was adjourned without the bill being tabled.

Apart from Aizawl, protest rallies were held in seven other district headquarters during which black flags were shown in opposition to the bill.

Addressing a protest rally near Vanapa Hall here, Young Mizo Association (YMA) vice president R Lalngheta warned that all foreigners barring residents of Northeastern states would be driven out from the state if the centre goes ahead with the passage of the Citizenship Bill.

“All Chakma foreigners, who are illegally living in the state, would be expelled by force if the Bill is cleared for legislation,” he said.

NGO Coordination Committee chairman and YMA president Vanlalruata, who addressed the protest rally, also accused the Centre of suppressing the Mizos and the people of Northeast.

He also asked the Centre to retrospect itself of the suppression it had faced from the British during freedom struggle.

“I want to convey a message to the Centre that it must retrospect those days of freedom struggle. We the Mizo people do not like suppression like you had faced from the British during freedom struggle,” he said.

The leader said that inclusion of Buddhist minorities within the purview of the bill is harmful for Mizoram as there are large numbers of illegal Buddhist Chakma immigrants in the state. He alleged that many illegal immigrants crossed the Mizoram border from neighbouring Bangladesh owing to failure in maintaining tight security along the international border.

Calling upon the people to unite against the bill, Vanlalruata also said that the Mizo people do not believe in violence but will continue to oppose the bill till the end.

Among the leaders, who addressed the protest rally, the influential Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) president L Ramdinliana Renthlei warned that the Mizo youths would not remain silent but even take up arms if the Centre goes against the interest of the Mizos.

The student leader also urged the people to consider the fight against citizenship bill as a “movement” involving the Mizo community and the people of northeast.

Mizo Students’ Union (MSU) adviser Lalhmachhuana Zofa, who spoke on the occasion, also slammed the state government as not worried about the bill and not taking concrete effort to oppose the bill.

Several people were seen holding placards that read ‘Welcome Independent Republic of Mizoram’ and ‘Hello Independence’ during a protest rally in Mizoram on Tuesday

During the protest rally lasted for more than an hour, protesters also held mass prayers seeking divine intervention to ensure the defeat of the bill.

The protest rally was attended by many party leaders including state information and public relation minister Lalruatkima and transport minister TJ Lalnuntluanga.

Former chief minister and state congress president Lal Thanhawla along with his wife Lal Riliani were also seen with a placard that reads “Welcome Independent Republic of Mizoram”

Meanwhile, state congress youth and main opposition Zoram People’s Movement (ZPM) strongly blamed the state government for allegedly not giving concern to the bill.

In a separate statement, both the parties alleged that the state government led by chief minister Zoramthanga was reluctant to take massive efforts to oppose the bill owing to its allegiance to the NDA government at the centre.

Former Mizoram CM and Congress leader Lal Thanhawla at a protest rally organised by the NGO Coordination Committee in Aizawl against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

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