NE uniting under shutdown call Opposition to CAB

North East unites in dawn to dusk shutdown. This is perhaps the first time that the entire region has come together to enforce a bandh and the reason is not far to seek. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is at the centre of the rage and even as the shutdown was in force in the North East region, the said Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha. Not surprisingly the said Bill has sent ripples in the political circles with Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga of the MNF strongly backing the bandh called by the North East Students’ Organisation and backed by numerous student organisations spread across the region. Meghalaya too has not been lagging behind with Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma speaking out against the said Bill before its passage in the Lok Sabha making it clear that the NPP will quit the NDA if the Bill is passed. Now that the Bill has been passed in the Lok Sabha, it remains to be seen how the Meghalaya Chief Minister proceeds from here. In Assam, the AGP which was with the BJP has already walked out of the alliance over the said Bill. More than clear that the opposition to the said Bill is not only from student organisations and other pressure groups but also from partners of the BJP and this is where it will get more interesting in the coming days. Here it becomes important to study why the North East region is strongly opposed to the said Bill. But before this, a brief explanation on what the Bill is about may be in line. The Bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Afghanistan who had entered India and settled here for 6 years.
The Bill obviously has not gone down well with NESO, student organisations and many North East Governments as it contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985 which clearly lays down that illegal migrants from Bangladesh after March 25, 1971 would be deported. This is about Assam, but obviously human migration cannot be seen within the context of only one State or place and opening the doors to migrants will amount to opening the floodgates. This is the reason why the bandh was also total in Manipur. The Bill also goes against the spirit of the Bill that was passed by the State Assembly to restrict the inflow of non-locals into the State. In other words it goes against the movement launched by the JCILPS and for which the State has had to pay a heavy price in the recent past. Remember Robinhood, the days of street protests by school going children, the curfews and the uproar at Churachandpur and the death of nine protesters. Other than the Assam Accord what is intrinsic in the success of the bandh called by NESO and backed by numerous student organisations is the question of livelihood and plain survival. Apart from Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the North East States are geographically small and are mostly mountainous. Giving legitimacy to non-locals to stay in the region will amount to a struggle for living space between the indigenes and the outsiders and this is what the people of North East are apprehensive about. The argument that citizenship will be granted to only those who have been staying here for the last 6 years and hence will not make any difference may just not cut ice with those who are against the Bill.

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