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Northeast India on edge over Citizenship Bill

  • Published at 11:13 am January 15th, 2019
People wait in queue to check their names on the draft list at the National Register of Citizens (NRC) centre at a village in Nagaon district, Assam state, India, July 30, 2018 Reuters

The bill has been facing much opposition from several Indian political parties

Northeast India is on edge as India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has succeeded in passing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha,which is the Lower House of the  Indian Parliament, on January 8, 2019.

Once the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha (Upper House of the Indian Parliament), it will be translated into an Act.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced in India’s Lok Sabha in July 2016 by the BJP government. The bill aims to provide citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who left Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to escape religious persecution.

The bill also allows anyone belonging to the aforementioned religious communities who entered the country before December 31, 2014, to seek citizenship in India.

It all began with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s assurance in Assam’s Barak Valley that his government would go ahead with the Citizenship Bill. He made this assurance in a poll rally on January 4, 2019.

Also Read- BJP Loses Assam Ally over Citizenship Bill

This was followed by a call for a strike which was observed all across Northeast India on January 8, 2019, and was spearheaded by North East Student’s Organisation (NESO), the apex body comprised of all student parties of the region.

NESO appeals for unity in opposition

NESO on January 12 appealed to all political parties to forge unity in opposing the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Rajya Sabha.

“We urge different political parties who are against this draconian bill to stand up in the Rajya Sabha so that it cannot be passed,” NESO Chairman Samuel B Jyrwa told reporters in Shillong, Meghalaya.

The NESO chairman also shared that though the bill cannot be passed owing to strong opposition by Rajya Sabha parliamentarians, NESO has been made aware of another session of the Indian Parliament that will start from January 31 to February 12,when India’s central government might re-introduce the bill in the Rajya Sabha.

Two BJP legislators from the Northeast Indian state of Meghalaya have sent a memorandum to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to vent opposition against the bill.

The memorandum was sent by legislators Sanbor Shullai and AL Hek during BJP’s National Convention held at Delhi on January 11-12.

However, their appeal has seemingly fallen on deaf ears, as BJP has not changed its stance.