Guwahati: Protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 escalated on Wednesday as hundreds of protesters from Manipur took part in a procession in New Delhi, chanted slogans and held placards that said, ‘Stop Hinduisation of Manipur, Respect our Ethnic identity.’
Protesters from All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) and other organisations were stopped by the security personnel as they burned representational copies of the Bill outside the Parliament House. “Why is the Government of India in a haste to pass the Bill? We have every right to protect the indigenous people. Northeast India is not a dumping ground of illegal migrants,” said one of the protesters.
At the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous Council (TUIPC) headquarters in Khumulwng, hundreds of thousands led by Tripura royal scion, Pradyot Manikya Debbarma, rallied against the Bill, raising the slogan ‘Poila jati ulo party’ (Tribe first, party later).
Protesters from TUIPC, a joint body of 48 one-time insurgent groups in the state, were joined by tribal political parties such as the Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), IPFT Tipraha – a breakaway faction of Tripura’s ruling ally IPFT – and the National Conference of Tripura (NCT).
“We have come together against the Bill, irrespective of caste, creed or religion, and across party lines and NGOs. With just three months to elections, the government is playing vote bank politics, intending polarisation of people and communities. We will continue to fight it peacefully,” said Debbarma.
In Assam, the anti-bill protests turned violent as protesters from All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) stormed into a meeting organised by the RSS in Tinsukia district, and severely beat up the BJP district president present at the venue. While police resorted to baton charge to disperse the agitating crowd, seriously injured Lakeshwar Moran was rushed to hospital.
AASU campaigners in Dhemaji district are all set to welcome Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday with his effigies clothed in black displayed at different locations in the town.
“We have hung his effigies at 10 places – all done in black. It is a way to register our protest against the Bill and to tell him that we will never accept it,” said an AASU activist.
On the other hand, the Sadou Asom Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) staged a massive anti-bill protest in Guwahati, affecting normal functioning of government offices for at least three hours. The organisation held similar protests in other parts of the state. One of the protesters said that ‘a job is not more important than the state or the community’, another held a banner that read, ‘Desh bulile nalage aadesh’ (We don’t need orders for the sake of our motherland)”.
AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya, who also lent support to the protests, said that people will not bow down to the government. “Assam will not take the burden of Bangladeshis – Hindus or Muslims who entered India after 1971. The government is trying to dominate us, but we will not bow down.”
Meanwhile, the Asom Gana Parishad came out in support of the families of the martyrs of Assam Agitation, who have decided to return the awards to the state government in protest against the Bill.