SHILLONG, May 10: Shillong city on Thursday was where two separate protest in opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 proposed by the Centre were held, voicing the vehement opposition of the KSU and the FKJGP to this amendment which, if made a law would enable people from six religious communities to acquire Indian citizenship.
Armed with banners, Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) activists staged a surprise demonstration inside the premises of the State Convention Centre, while the Joint Parliament Committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was holding meetings with the various stakeholders for their views on the Bill.
Earlier before the meeting started, members of the Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP) organized a sit-in-demonstration in front of the statue of Kiang Nangbah, a legendary freedom of the Jaintias, located about 200 metres away from Secretariat.
The sit-in-protest also saw participation of peace-bound United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) general secretary Anup Chetia and leaders of the Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) and North East Indigenous People’s Forum (NEIPF). FKJGP is part of the NEIPF led by Chetia.
The Bill was introduced by the Centre in Lok Sabha in July 2016, seeking to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who belong to six communities viz Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship.
“The objective of the protest is to send a strong message to the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre that the people of Meghalaya outrightly reject its proposed Bill on ground of identity and safety of the indigenous community,” FKJGP chief Wellbirth Rani said on the sidelines of this protest.
“We cannot accept such a Bill which attempts to give citizenship based on religion,” he said while accusing the Centre of trying to convert the entire country into a Hindu nation through the Bill.
Stating that implementation of the Bill will be very dangerous for Meghalaya and other North East states, Rani said, “Though we are not against any religion, our stand is clear that we will not allow even an inch of our land to be given to illegal foreigners.”
The FKJGP president also lauded the bold decision taken by the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government led by the National People’s Party (NPP) to say “No” to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 proposed by the Centre.
“However, we want the state government of Meghalaya to further take up the matter at the level of the Prime Minister to ensure that the Bill is not implemented,” he said.
On the other hand, HNYF general secretary Sadon K Blah said that the Centre through the Bill is attempting to convert India into a Hindu nation by encouraging influx constitutionally and illegally.
“The Bill also seeks to promote dual citizenship because according to the draft Bill there is process to detect whether such migrants are no longer citizens of other countries,” he said.