NGOs opposing Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, staging a sit-in protest in Shillong on Monday Credit: EastMojo image

Shillong: Strongly opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that is scheduled to be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament, which started on Monday, the North East Students’ Organisation staged a sit-in protest at the additional secretariat in Shillong, Meghalaya, along with other states of the region.

The North East Indigenous People’s Forum (NEIPF) came out in solidarity with NESO, including several of its members such as Khasi Students’ Union and Garo Students’ Union, and raised slogans holding placards which read ‘Go back Bangladeshis’, ‘We oppose CAB’.

NESO chairman Samuel Jyrwa said, “This protest is necessitated because of the announcement that the government of India will move to amend the CAB in this Winter Session of Parliament. So, this sit-in protest is a move to show our opposition to this intended Bill that the central government is planning to bring in.”

“This is the first phase of our agitation by NESO annd all its constituent organisations in the different NE states. We are against this Bill since 2016, this is anti-indigenous, it’s unconstitutional. It also determines the citizenship of a person based on religion,” said Jyrwa.

He also added that the indigenous people in the NE states are marginalised people and are a microscopic community and that if people from Bangladesh will be allowed to cross over either legally or illegally into India to be granted Indian citizenship, then the will become a minority in their own land.

Khasi Students’ Union general secretary Donald Thabah said, “The constituent organisations will submit a memorandum to the home minister and Prime Minister through the governor. With regards to the KSU and GSU, NESO co-ordinator Daniel Khyriem will submit the memorandum. We have been opposing this bill since 2016. The government of India should be aware that we have not taken a soft stand against CAB. In the coming days if the government remains adamant, then the central government will have to take full responsibility for the law and order situation in the entire northeast region.”

Political leaders react to CAB

Senior Congress leader Ampareen Lyngdoh raised concerns over the CAB scheduled to be tabled in the parliament.

“As a legislator in the state of Meghalaya, I am deeply concerned about the fact that the CAB is now taking shape in a very definite way. We are finally coming to terms with the fact that in the session that is currently being held in Parliament, the CAB will be a major agenda. At this point in time, the government of Meghalaya should immediately call for an all-party meeting,” said Lyngdoh.

“We need to ensure that voice against the CAB is a unanimous one. We should ensure that the peace we enjoy in the state doesn’t take a setback. The Citizens Security and Safety Act has been put in place and that it would attend to the fallout of the CAB, in general, is insufficient. We cannot take this for granted as we know the amendment on the act is actually an ordinance which has not become effective. We’ve seen that the facilitation centres are still not operational,” she added. Lyngdoh raised concerns whether the Citizens’ Security and Safety act will cover the threat that the CAB in general has.

“As a responsible legislator, the Meghalaya government should call an all-party meeting and give us a clear indicator as to whether or not the government of Meghalaya will protest the implementation of CAB on our state,” said Lyngdoh.

HSPDP president KP Pangniang said, “The party has submitted our representation against the CAB to the CM, requesting not to implement the CAB in the state. Our government stands strong and oppose the CAB and even our party since Day 1 strongly opposes this Bill.”

Meanwhile, the Confederation of Meghalaya Social organisations (CoMSO) and North East Forum of Indigenous People are organising a ‘stay-off the road’ protest in the state from Monday to Tuesday.

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