SHILONG, Nov 30: While opining that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to wipe out the indigenous communities in North East India, social organizations in Meghalaya have demanded that the Centre immediately scraps this Bill even as they called for the implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP) in the state.
The demand was made during a protest organized by the North East Students Organization (NESO) at the parking lot near the additional secretariat in the city here on Friday.
This protest attended by leaders and activists of the Khasi Students Union (KSU), Garo Students Union (GSU), Naga Students Union (NSU), Socio Cultural Assamese Association (SCAA), Tripura Students Union (TSU) and others.
Shouting slogans against the BJP-led NDA government, activists also carried placards which read - “Instead of Citizenship Amendment Bill we want ILP”, “We will fight till the last drop of blood” among others.
The Bill was introduced by Centre in Lok Sabha in July 2016 to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who belong to six communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan - eligible for citizenship of India.
Speaking at the gathering, NESO chairman Samuel B Jyrwa accused the Centre of attempting to ‘wipe out’ the indigenous communities in the North East region through the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
“But today we want to send a clear message to the government that we will not accept this Bill and we will fight tooth and nail because the North East region cannot be treated as a dumping ground,” he said.
Jyrwa who is a former leader of the KSU said the Bill if allowed to go through will result in grave danger for the microscopic indigenous population in the region, which is already faced with the problem of influx whereby they may become a minority in their own land.
Slamming the Centre for imposing laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which he termed as ‘draconian’ in the NE, he said, “This is political injustice done to the people of the region.”
The NESO chairman further informed that a similar protest will soon be held at New Delhi to pressurize the government to scrap the Citizenship Amendment Bill even as he urged the people of the region to be united in this fight.
Earlier, KSU chief Lambokstarwell Marngar said the Centre should be ready to declare Meghalaya outside the Constitution of India if it implements the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Urging all the North Eastern states to oppose the Bill, he said the government should instead bring effective laws to protect the indigenous communities by regulating the entry of outsiders.
“We demand the government to implement the National Register of Citizen (NRC) and Inner Line Permit (ILP) systems in all the North Eastern states,” Marngar said.
Terming the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as a ‘draconian’ Bill that seeks to erase the identity of the indigenous people in the region, ASAA president D Bhuyan said, “We condemn the powers that bring this Bill.”
He also questioned why the Centre is concerned about people who are not even Indians and said “is our identity not important to you? Why do we have to share our land and resources with others? Stop this step-motherly treatment of the NE region.”