Citizenship bill protests: Media gag order in Manipur

Citizenship bill protests: Media gag order in Manipur

Protesters blocking a road near Imphal, Manipur on Tuesday. Photo/ Veewon Thokchom.

BJP-led Manipur government prohibited broadcast of the ongoing protests against the NDA’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill even as the security forces struggled to control the situation on Tuesday.

The curfew clamped on Monday in Imphal, the state capital, remained in force as the protesters burnt tyres and blocked roads as the Centre was likely to introduce the bill in the Rajya Sabha. Sources said similar protests would continue on Wednesday, the last day of the Budget Session of Parliament.

Norem Praveen Singh, district magistrate of Imphal West, in his order prohibited transmission or re-transmission of the agitation/protest of any form, inflammatory speech or public discourse that might incite violence and any programme which might breach peace and tranquillity. The prohibition was imposed under Section 19 of the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, Singh’s order said.

The protest is led by Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill - an umbrella body of at least 165 civil society organisations. Police fired tear gas shells at protesters in Imphal as they resolved to carry on the protests till the bill was withdrawn.

“There is apprehension of serious breach of peace, disturbance to public tranquillity and grave danger to human lives and property. Therefore, it is ordered that people shall remain indoors on Tuesday and until further orders,” said the prohibitory order issued by Chitra Devi, district magistrate, Imphal East.

Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh had earlier appealed to union home minister Rajnath Singh to keep the state out of purview of the bill.

Turn minorities?

Organisations representing indigenous people across the Northeast fear that the bill would reduce them into minorities—linguistically and politically by giving citizenship to “illegal migrants” from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The bill seeks to allow non-Muslim migrants, who had fled the three countries due to “religious persecution” and had taken shelter in India till December 31, 2014 to apply for Indian citizenship, after a stay of six years.

Protests against the bill continued in Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura. “The protests clearly reflect the sentiment of the people of the Northeast against the bill,” said Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma.

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, however, urged people to relent and assured that the bill would cause no harm to the interests of the indigenous people.

'Independent Mizoram'

Former Mizoram chief minister and senior Congress leader Lal Thanhawla, at a protest march at Aizawl, the state capital, on Tuesday said people in Mizoram would be forced to fight for “Independent Mizoram” if the bill was not withdrawn. Chief Minister Zoramthanga also said “appropriate steps” would be taken if the bill is not withdrawn.