Anti-CAB protests intensify in Assam

The bill to amend the Citizenship Act will be tabled in the Lok Sabha on December 9 and will be taken up for debate, the next day. The ruling government had already declared that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) will be passed by the Parliament by December 10.

Assam protest

The Times of India reported that amidst these reports, unrest in Assam has intensified and has further spread to Tripura. The central executive of All Assam Students Union (AASU) discussed in a meeting the feasibility of approaching the Supreme Court against the Bill if it gets passed in the Parliament and further receives the President’s assent, which will just be a procedural step. AASU’s General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, “The government has gone all out to bulldoze the aspirations of the people of Assam and the rest of the northeast. They want to invalidate the Assam Accord by passing the citizenship bill on December 10, which is observed as Swahid Diwas in commemoration of the sacrifices made by one of the slain torchbearers of the Assam Agitation, Khargeswar Talukdar.” He further said that AASU is determined to take legal recourse in case CAB get passed in Parliament next week.

A meeting is scheduled to take place between AASU and representatives of NESO (north East Students’ Organization) to make plans to strengthen the movement against CAB.

An IIT-Guwahati professor, Swaroop Nandan Bora said, “I pray that this bill does not disturb communal harmony in the state. I believe the provisions of the Assam Accord should be adhered to because it is the one document that everyone accepted.”


The Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura, BJP’s ally in the state, held a dawn to dusk protest on December 5 during which they blocked road and rail traffic. According to the party’s President, Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawal hundreds of indigenous people across party lines joined the protests to protect the rights of tribals, as the controversial bill aims to grant citizenship to all non-Muslim illegal immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, albeit, the main concern in the North east is of influx of people from Bangladesh.

Even Tipraland State Party (TSP) held protests on December 2 with a dual agenda to oppose CAB and to demand separate state for tribals in Tripura. The Times of India reported that during this protest, normal life was hit as vehicles remained off the roads and markets and government institutions remained closed. The TSP President, Chittaranjan Debbarma, said, “The indigenous people in Tripura have been reduced to a minority due to the influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and other countries. If the CAB is passed and all illegal immigrants are allowed to stay here permanently, then the indigenous people of the NE region will slowly lose their identity and rights.”

Meeting with NE representatives

After the meeting with organizations from north east who were opposing the bill and the Chief Ministers of north-eastern states of Assam, Manipur and Nagaland, held at the end of November, CAB was reportedly redrafted. The bill is likely to exclude three States in the North-East with the ILP (Inner Line Permit) regime out of its ambit besides the tribal areas in as many as three other the Northeast States, namely, Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. These are the tribal areas where autonomous councils and districts were created under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The ILP is an official travel document issued by the Government of India to allow inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period. The ILP regime is under the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873. Section 2 of the regulation says the ILP system is present in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.

Thus, what gets left out is the whole of Sikkim and Manipur as well as non-tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura. Hence, the agitation is continuing and the exceptions to ILP and Sixth Schedule are being seen as a band aid to a much bigger injury that the entire region will have to nurse.


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