Protestors dub NDA government ‘Anti – tribal’, burn effigies to mark protest against Citizenship Bill

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SHILLONG, Jan 11: The torching of effigies of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led – National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government at the centre spoke volumes of the resentment felt by the people of Shillong against the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 during a protest which was held here on Friday in the heart of the city at Khyndailad.

The protest was organized amid tight security by the three pressure groups – Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People, Hynniewtrep National Youth Front and Ri-Bhoi Youth Federation – under the banner of the North East Indigenous People’s Forum.

Activists also shouted anti-Modi and anti-BJP slogans as they displayed placards which read – “We protest the passing of the CAB which seeks to wipe out the indigenous communities,” and “BJP-led government has demolished the spirit of Indian Constitution.”

Earlier during the start of the protest, an argument erupted when a police official Prianchu Pandey removed the black flags erected by the protesters from the three organizations at the venue.

However, they were later allowed to re-erect the black flags after the leaders assured to remove them after the end of the demonstration.

United Democratic Party (UDP) working president Paul Lyngdoh who was accompanied by party workers besides leaders of the CoHSO, a conglomerate of 14 NGOs also came to express their solidarity with the protesters.

Speaking at the sidelines of the protest, FKJGP president Wellbirth Rani, who is also the convener of the NEIPF informed that the NEIPF will soon have its Meghalaya chapter to further intensify their agitations against the Bill.

Opining that the Bill is an evil design of the BJP against the indigenous people of the North East region, Rani said, “The Bill has been passed to suit the political interest of the BJP…you can look at the timing…the BJP is pushing its Hindutva agenda.”

He further slammed the NDA government while accusing it of having double standards and said, “You have the Assam Accord and NRC to deport illegal immigrants and now you are welcoming them by bringing the Citizenship Amendment Bill.”

Earlier while speaking at the meeting, HNYF general secretary Sadon K Blah asked the NDA government not to allow its political agenda to affect the indigenous communities in the region.

Referring to the family planning policy which he said, aims at stabilizing the country’s population, Blah said the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill is quite the opposite to the national campaign launched by the Government of India under the slogans “Hum do, hamare do” or “We two, ours two”.

 “You (Centre) say hum do, hamare do but how come you are inviting people from outside?” he asked.

Accusing the Central government of betraying the people of the North East, Blah said, “We as NGOs of the region have in one voice said no to the CAB before Joint Parliamentary Committee but you lied to us by passing this bill.”

The NEIPF will convene a meeting at Guwahati, Assam to be attended by all its conveners from the different parts of the North East to discuss on its future course of action on January 15-16.

Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Pradesh Mahila Congress also staged a protest in front of the Congress Bhavan condemning the passing of the Citizenship Amendment Bill.

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