Imphal/Shillong/Kohima: A movement demanding scrapping of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is once again gaining momentum as people in large numbers from different sections of society took out rallies and shouted slogans in various parts of the Northeast, particularly in states like Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland on Thursday.
In Imphal, students, social activists and civil society members joined the mass movement against CAB, which was organised by the North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP) amidst heavy security presence.
The protestors demanded immediate withdrawal of CAB terming it a contentious bill which is against the interest of the indigenous people of the region. Also, the agitators strongly condemned the statements made by Union home minister Amit Shah and convenor of North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) Himanta Biswa Sarma that the Centre will re-introduce the bill in November or during the upcoming Parliamentary session.
Speaking with EastMojo, NEFIP president Ningthouja Lancha said, “The protest is against the CAB. Union home minister Amit Shah and NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma have already assured the people of Bengal and other parts of the country that they will pass the bill in the month of November.”
Lancha further stated that CAB is very much against the aspirations and interest of the indigenous people of the Northeast and there are enough majoritarian population of illegal immigrants present in the region.
The agitators also appealed the government of India to understand and consider the interest of the northeast people, it said.
The central executive council (CEC) of the NEFIP has proposed to sensitise the indigenous people, especially at the grassroots level of the Northeast region on the ill-effects of CAB.
Moreover, according to the organisers, they will continue their collective protest in a phased-wise manner until the bill is totally scrapped.
Any attempt made by the Union or state government to impose any language on the indigenous people would not be accepted, said Lancha.
Our Shillong correspondent adds:
Members of the Meghalaya unit of the NEFIP staged a sit-in protest against the Centre move for reintroduction of CAB on Thursday.
The civil society organisation strongly believes that the bill has a secret agenda and that is only to convert India into a Hindu nationality.
Robertjune Kharjahrin, secretary general, NEFIP, said, “We have seen in the past how the Centre is trying to bring CAB in the upcoming Parliament session. We have always opposed the CAB, because we know that if it (CAB) becomes a reality, it will reduce the indigenous people of the region to a minority in their own land. As we know that closely one crore of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are here in the Northeast. If Bangladeshi Hindus are given citizenships, it will be a disaster for us.”
He further said that CAB has a hidden agenda.
“The main aim of the BJP is to make India a Hindu-dominated society. The party wants to impose several laws which are against our will. The BJP has had this agenda for a long time and they know that once these immigrants are given citizenship, especially in the Northeast, they will find an easy way to convert India a Hindu nationality,” he added.
Nagaland correspondent adds:
People in large numbers, representing various tribal bodies, participated at a public protest march, organised by the NEFIP and Joint Committee on Prevention of Illegal Immigration (JCPI), to protest against the CAB outside the TT Stadium near Red Cross and marched towards the chief minister’s residence to submit a memorandum.
Right before the march began, joint secretary Tia Longchar in his address said, “We have decided that we will oppose CAB tooth and nail. Come rain, come shine, come bullets. Whatever may come, we will not stop. We will come up with a white paper as early as possible through dailies and present what CAB is and why it will affect us. Today, all seven states have gathered is because 98% of our boundaries is surrounded by foreign countries. Therefore, Northeast will be affected the worst.”
“Now, if CAB happens, it will be a silent revolution. God has not given us big natural calamities like tsunami but it will be a tsunami of human population that will sub plant the indigenous people,” he added.
Leaders of various tribal bodies and other organisations also raised concern of CAB reiterating their support in the fight against the “contentious” bill.
Earlier on August 9, NEFIP submitted a memorandum to the Prime Minister of India saying: “The bill violates Article 14 of the Constitution as also the Preamble of the Constitution of India.”