Citizenship Bill push demand for NRC in North East

NESO protesters in Guwahati on Monday.

The demand for an Assam-like NRC and Inner Line Permit (ILP) system in the entire Northeast intensified on Monday as most parts of the region erupted in fresh protest against NDA's Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019.

Students' organisations under the banner North East Students' Organisation (NESO) staged protests in state capitals of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh demanding the scrapping of the bill. The organisation also submitted memoranda to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.

"The Northeast will bear the maximum brunt if the bill is passed by the Centre to give citizenship to the post-1971 migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. A large number of illegal migrants are already living in the region as we share over 1,500km border with Bangladesh and so the indigenous people will become minorities in our own land if those migrants are given citizenship through this bill. Through the Assam Accord of 1985, Assam agreed to accept illegal migrants till March 24, 1971 and we can't accept more migrants now," NESO chairman, Samuel B Jyrwa told DH from Shillong.

The bill, which has been listed for the winter session of the Parliament beginning on Monday, seeks to allow  the "persecuted minorities" from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan such as Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, who had migrated till December 31, 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship through naturalisation, after a stay of six years.

NESO demanded that NRC exercise should be carried out in rest of the Northeast with a cut-off date acceptable to all to detect the illegal migrants. They also demanded that the indigenous people be granted safeguards to protect their rights over land and natural resources. "The ILP system, which is now in force in Nagaland, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh must be introduced in rest of the states to prevent illegal migration," he said.

Under the ILP, outsiders are now required to take travel permit ranging between one week to six months.

Adviser of All Assam Students' Union, Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya said the bill was unconstitutional as it seeks to give citizenship on religious lines.

Manipur People against Citizenship, a citizens forum and an umbrella body of six left parties also staged protests in Manipur and Assam respectively. 

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