From North East to rest of India ;
Core issue of protests
It is obvious. It is not only a change of geography but also a change of subject matter. From the North East, particularly Assam and Tripura to Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bangalore and to some extent West Bengal. So from a cry to save the interests of the indigenous people or the people of the North East region, at Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and other parts of the country, it is more a case of why Muslims should be discriminated against while granting citizenship under the Citizenship Amendment Act. Days before it became an Act, the North East, particularly Assam and Manipur became the theatre of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. Rewind to the earlier part of this year, before the 2019 Lok Sabha election was held, it was the North East region which rose as one to protest the Citizenship Amendment Bill. The said Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha but it was not tabled in the Rajya Sabha back then, for reasons which must be obvious to all. However after the Lok Sabha elections this year, the BJP got going and today it is no longer a Bill but an Act. The focus of protests in the North East was and is still the stand that no one should be allowed to enter the region under the leeway granted by the new Act. Assam has pointed to the Assam Accord of 1985, which seeks to deport all illegal immigrants who entered the State after 1971. The base year is 1971 but the Citizenship Law seeks to nullify this point and grant citizenship to all Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered India before December 31, 2014.
So it is that while the North East or more particularly Assam has been demanding that the Assam Accord of 1985 should not be nullified via the Citizenship Law, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Bangalore and Kolkata have been raising the discrimination protest-the argument being why only Muslims should be omitted from the ambit of the new law. Tripura may not have an accord like the Assam Accord but as Tripura Prince Pradyot Bikram Manikya Debbarma put it in a recent debate on the TV, immigrants have outnumbered the locals by 3:2 and today they hold all the key posts in the bureaucracy, the Government and others. In other words, the original Tripuris have been reduced to a footnote in their own State and this is an apprehension felt in all the North Eastern States. This example is also one of the primary reasons why Manipur saw a sustained movement to get the Inner Line Permit System or a similar law to regulate the influx of non-locals into the State. The protest in the North East is absolutely secular, in the sense that the opposition is against any illegal immigrants and not against anyone on the basis of which religion he belongs to. This is the bottomline. Unfortunate it is for the people of the North East that this fundamental truth of the opposition has been tweaked in such a way that the understanding of the indigenous people has got buried under the Hindu-Muslim divide.