Protests and strikes hit Assam, Manipur, Tripura against CAB
The tabling of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha on Monday has led to more protests against the controversial legislation in Assam, Manipur and Tripura.
In Assam, a 12-hour general strike called by several indigenous organisations affected normal life in several parts of the state.
While Guwahati remained largely unaffected, businesses and educational institutions remained shut and movement of vehicles disrupted during the duration of the strike in many towns in upper and lower Assam.
States in the northeast like Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which have inner line permit (ILP) regime and Sixth Schedule areas in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya have been kept outside the ambit of CAB.
The entire northeast will witness a shutdown on Tuesday due to an 11-hour general strike called by North East Students Organisation (NESO), which comprises main student bodies of seven states in the region.
Normal life was also affected in Manipur on Monday due to ‘cease work’ movement against the bill launched by Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC).
The movement which was started from 1am of December 9 is scheduled to continue till 3am of December 11.
Markets in the state capital Imphal, including the iconic Ima Market (mother’s market), wore a desolate look due to the cease work movement and local transport services also suspended their normal service for the day.
“Our demand is to ensure CAB is not implemented in Manipur and rest of Northeast,” says MANPAC convenor Yumnamcha Dilipkumar. “We’ll continue our movement.”
Sharing a similar sentiment, spokesperson and general secretary of Manipur Pradesh Congress Committee Kh Devbarta said his party will move courts if the bill is passed in Parliament.
In Tripura, too, normal life was paralysed on Monday due to protests by the indigenous political parties against CAB.
The BJP’s ruling partner in the state, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT), observed a dawn-to-dusk strike at Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) areas protesting against the bill and in demand of their separate statehood - Tipraland. The strike began from 6am.
“We demand the Centre not to implement the bill in our state. Protesting against the bill and in demand of our separate statehood, we called the strike for 12 hours,” said IPFT assistant general secretary Mangal Debbarma.
Few indigenous political parties and social organisations under the banner of Joint Movement against Citizenship Amendment Bill (JMCAB) on Monday started an indefinite strike in the state as part of their protest against the bill.
“Our community has become outnumbered due to the huge influx of people from Bangladesh. We don’t want any more worse effects due to this bill,” said JMCAB convenor Anthony Debbarma.
Police said more than 1000 protesters were detained in Tripura during the strike on Monday.
States with inner line permit (ILP) regime, which have been exempted from the purview of CAB, are also not entirely happy with the legislation.
K Elu Ndang, the general secretary of the Naga Hoho, the apex body of Naga tribes said the Nagas are opposed to the amendment. “We the Nagas don’t welcome the CAB,” he said.
“We are safe with the inner line permit if the government implements it in toto. But what is the need for the CAB? It will disturb the demography of the tribal Northeastern states,” he said adding that the Nagas fear that the immigrants may make their way into Naga inhabited areas as well.
Similar concerns were voiced by Lalmachhuana, the general secretary of the Central Young Mizo Association, a powerful civil society group in Mizoram.
“Even though Mizoram being an ILP state is going to be exempted but since other states including Assam will face a huge influx because of the CAB, Mizoram is likely to get hampered and affected too, by this influx,” he said.
“The best solution is to exempt all of the northeast region from the purview of the bill. The present exemptions are not sufficient,” he added.
Congress’ Lal Thanhawla, the former chief minister of Mizoram, questioned the selective exemptions.
“If the ILP states are being exempted, why are they trying to punish Assam and Manipur? Whatever concession is being mentioned, the CAB in totality cannot be a good bill,” he said.
The former chief minister said the government was pushing the CAB because “Hindus make up the maximum numbers among the minorities in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan and Christians are nominal.”
“The intention of the CAB is clear. It is a signal for the entire Northeast. This will be followed by the Uniform Civil Code,” Lal Thanhawla said.
Hawa Bagang, the president of the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union, said the student’s body will participate in the shutdown on December 10 called by the North East Students Organisation.
“All of the northeast should be exempted from the CAB. We are small states, unity is important. For the sake of Northeast unity, we are supporting the NESO call for shutdown in protest against the CAB,” Bagang said.