Widespread Protests Mushroom All Over Northeast; NESO Leads The Charge

Along with the commencement of the Partliament’s winter session, November 18 saw a profileration of student union protests over all the north-eastern state capitals.
Image Courtesy: PTI

The North East Student Organisation (NESO), a collective of North-East student unions sounded a clarion call for its member organisations to rally against the revised Citizenship Amendment Bill, which is likely to be tabled before the Central Legislature soon.

The contentious Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-muslim refugees – Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis – that may have fled neighbouring countries due to fears of religious persecution. 

In the North-East, this Bill considered a threat to the indigenous peoples of the states as the absorption of the refugees is thought of resulting in the “minoritisation” of the residing population. This very fear had in the 1980s given fuel to student agitations in Assam, which concluded with the signing of the Assam Accord and the setting up of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), invented to identify and discard Bangladeshi migrants from the State.

All Assam Student Union (AASU), All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union (AAPSU), Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP), Garo Students’ Union (GSU), Naga Students’ Federation (NSF), Tripura Student Federation (TSF), All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) held protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in other states of the North Eastern region.

Additionally, other organisations led by the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti launched a door-to-door campaign to drum up support against the bill, while members of the Left Democratic Front in Assam, staged a sit-in demanding the scrapping of the bill.

In Assam, AASU led the protests to the Raj Bhawan in Guwahati. On November 15, members and supporters of Asom Jatiyabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) took out rallies, and held sit-in demonstrations at several places, including Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Sonari and Jorthat.

The Asian Age reported that the Asom Songrami Mancha has threatened that the ruling BJP will face a movement bigger than the 1980s’ Assam students’ agitation if it pushed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament.

In Mizoram, the People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram joined the protest. The Hindu reported party president Vanlalruata saying, “The proposed Citizenship Bill is harmful for the entire northeast. But the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre appears to be putting the interest of illegal migrants above that of the indigenous people.”

In Arunachal Pradesh, Rajiv Gandhi University Student Union (RGUSU) among other university groups joined the peaceful rally organised by AAPSU in Itanagar.

In Meghalaya, non-governmental groups have vowed not to relent until the Centre dumps the bill. To drive home the point, the Confederation of Meghalaya Social Organisations has called for a night road blockade across the State on November 18 and 19, between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. The United Democratic Party (UDP) and the National People’s Party (NPP), former BJP allies in the state, have also opposed the Bill.



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