11-hour bandh in Northeast on January 8 over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
The announcement of the strike came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at a rally in Assam’s Silchar on Friday about his government’s desire to go ahead with the Bill despite opposition from the region.india Updated: Jan 06, 2019 14:40 IST
Student organizations and indigenous groups across northeast have called for an 11-hour ‘bandh’ in seven states of the region on January 8 in protest against the Centre’s move to table the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in parliament.
The announcement of the strike came after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at a rally in Assam’s Silchar on Friday about his government’s desire to go ahead with the Bill despite opposition from the region.
There’s fear among a sizeable section in northeast that, if the Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, is passed, it would reduce the indigenous population in the region to minority.
The Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the Bill is slated to table it in parliament on January 7.
The Bharatiya Janata Party had promised to amend the Bill ahead of the 2014 general election. Several parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, CPM are opposed to granting of citizenship of the basis of religion.
“This design by the government of India is very dangerous as it will reduce the indigenous peoples of the northeast to a minority,” said a statement issued by Samuel Jyrwa, president of North East Students’ Organisation (NESO).
The umbrella students’ body, which comprises student organizations from seven states in the region and has been opposing the Bill, has supported the ‘bandh’ call on January 8.
“NESO warns the government of India not to play with the future of the indigenous peoples of northeast for vote bank politics. Northeast is not a dumping ground for illegal migrants,” Jyrwa added.
All Assam Students Union (AASU), the state’s prominent student body which led a six year agitation from 1979 to 1985 against illegal Bangladeshis, and 30 other indigenous bodies from the state have also sought support from the public for the January 8 ‘bandh’.
To protest against the Bill, Monday will be observed as Black Day across Assam and copies of the Bill burnt. This will be followed by the ‘bandh’ from 5:00 am to 4:00 pm on January 8.
“AASU is against calling for ‘bandhs’. But we have been forced to announce it as despite protests, Centre is out to bring in the contentious Bill which will be the final blow for the future of indigenous groups in Assam and the region,” AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said here on Saturday.
First Published: Jan 06, 2019 14:08 IST