Thousands Take to Streets in Manipur, Chant Slogans Against Proposed Reintroduction of Citizenship Bill
At least 5,000 people, including students, are believed to have taken part in Thursday’s protests wherein citizens demanded unconditional withdrawal of the citizenship bill.
Women march against the proposed reintroduction of the bill in Imphal on Thursday. (News18)
Guwahati: Thousands of Manipuri protesters poured into the streets of Imphal on Thursday, chanting slogans and carrying placards against the government’s move to reintroduce Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB), 2016.
Even as security forces quickly moved in to prevent any untoward incident as witnessed before, hundreds of women gathered outside the Ima Keithel, ‘Market of Mothers’ with placards and banners reading “Withdraw CAB unconditionally” and “No CAB in Northeast”.
At least 5,000 people are believed to have taken part in Thursday’s anti-citizenship bill protests, led by the Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC), an umbrella body of over 84 civil society organisations in the state.
“We had people from different sections of society, including women, children and members of local clubs. In the main market, about 5,000 people gathered and at least 500 demonstrators were present every 2 km from the market square in all directions,” said Khuraijam Athouba, media secretary, North East Forum for Indigenous People (NEFIP).
School and college students formed a human chain to call for withdrawal of the bill. “Almost all academic institutions extended their support. We had distributed placards to not less than 300 institutes in Manipur and they spared an hour from 11am to 12 noon by participating in the protest and forming a human chain,” said Athouba.
Students form human chain against the citizenship bill.
A delegation of the protesting bodies submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister N Biren Singh through his secretary. Singh and other state BJP functionaries are currently camping in Delhi to consult the senior party leadership over internal differences that have been brewing for quite some time now.
The NEFIP leadership has also written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. The letter voiced the locals’ concerns and cited reasons behind their objection to the bill.
At the fourth North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) conclave held in Guwahati recently, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, while addressing the fears of the regional allies of the BJP, said the proposed bill would not affect the special provisions for northeastern states under Article 371, and would not be in conflict with the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in certain states or the existing state laws that safeguard the cultural, linguistic and other rights of locals.
NEDA convener Himanta Biswa Sarma had earlier said the government was consulting stakeholders at various levels and these discussions would have to be completed before the bill is reintroduced in the next Parliament session.
The contentious bill, which had triggered massive protests in the region, was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, but the government did not table it in the Rajya Sabha as it did not have the numbers in the Upper House to pass it, leading the bill to lapse with the end of the term of the 16th Lok Sabha in May.
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