Years after a saffron wave swept north east India, the Citizenship Amendment Act brought by the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has triggered massive protests in Assam and some other states in the region.
In Assam, different student organisations and civil society groups have demanded an immediate roll back of the amended law. Thousands of students from different colleges and universities took to streets shouting slogans against the BJP-led state government and particularly against Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who once led Assam’s most powerful students' body— All Assam Students’ Union (AASU).
People from all walks of life voluntarily joined protests last week when Union Home Minister Amit Shah tabled the bill in Lok Sabha as well as in Rajya Sabha and it subsequently got passed in Parliament.
While protests over the CAA continue to rock the streets, opposition parties, as well as, different students’ organisations have also approached the Supreme Court challenging the CAA, which assures citizenship rights to non-Muslims who entered India due to religious persecution till December 2014.
Apart from Assam, massive protests against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act have also taken place in different states in the region and the BJP which is in power in Assam, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura and partners of the ruling alliance in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram is seemingly far from handling the situation.
Meghalaya chief minister met Amit Shah, while Governor Tataghat Roy has gone on leave. The protests in Meghalaya over the CAA led the district administration of East Khasi Hills districts to impose curfew in Shillong and some adjoining areas.
Apart from this a group of advocates and citizens from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Manipur are preparing to file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court with a plea to strike off the act.
“The act is against the spirit of the constitution, and the PIL would be filed under Article 32 as it violates Article 14, 15 and 21 of the constitution,” said practicing lawyer, Peter A Dohkrud.
The Manipur Students’ Association, which had launched protests in Delhi against the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Bill also termed state Chief Minister N Biren Singh as a ‘puppet of Delhi’ and appealed to the people of the state to boycot the MPS who had voted in favour of the contentious bill.
“The CAB exposes serious lack of understanding of the Government of India and the ruling BJP on the nature of the problems arising out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam. The Bhojpuris, Nepalis, Assamese and many other Indian citizens of Assam excluded from the NRC cannot claim to be persecuted non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. They shall forever remain stateless,” said New Delhi-based human rights activist Suhas Chakma.
It may be mentioned here that the BJP which made its first major political victory in Assam in 2016 assembly polls soon witnessed success in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur. In Tripura the saffron party gained thumping success by ousting the Left while the party also became partners of the ruling alliance in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram in recent years.
However, three years after the saffron surge swept across the region, the party is seemingly facing its first real political challenge in the region.