SHILLONG, Dec 07: Black flags were all aflutter in Shillong on Friday as the Confederation of Hynniewtrep Social Organisation (CoHSO), a conglomeration of 14 NGOs staged a flag march in show of their opposition to the Centre’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The Bill was introduced in the 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.
With black flags flying in the cold wind, the activists also shouted anti-NDA government slogans like “Modi government down down” and “Bangladeshis go back” as they took out the protest march from Malki to the parking lot near the Additional Secretariat.
One of the banners displayed during the procession also read – “NDA government immediately scrap the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 and instead implement ILP and NRC in Meghalaya”.
Before the march, the activists also paid rich tribute to the former Khasi Students Union (KSU) president Bull N Lyngdoh in front of the late leader’s bust on his 24th death anniversary at Malki.
Speaking to reporters, Hynniewtrep Youth Council (HYC) president Robertjune Kharjahrin said the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016 of the Centre is not only against the indigenous tribals of the North East region but is also against national security.
Opining that the proposed Bill seeks to make North East the second Bangladesh, Kharjahrin said, “If Bangladeshis are more important than the NE people in the eyes of the Narendra Modi, he can go and become the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.”
“If the Modi government decides to go ahead in passing the Citizenship Amendment Bill, then the people of North East will have to rethink whether being Indian citizens is in their interest,” he added.
Elaborating more on the danger of the Bill, Kharjahrin said that a study has predicted the risk of Bangladesh getting submerged under water and this will lead to its people migrating to other countries including India.
“If only 2 crore Bangladeshis migrate to this part of the country, there is no doubt that the indigenous people and their identity will be wiped out,” he said.
On the other hand, the HYC leader further alleged that the Bill is nothing but a “political ploy” of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to convert the North East into its biggest vote bank by bringing in illegal Bangladeshi Hindus into the region.
“This is a political ploy designed by the BJP at the cost of the interest of the indigenous people. Therefore we demand the NDA government to immediately scrap the Citizenship Amendment Bill,” he said.
Meanwhile appreciating the bold decision of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government to reject the Bill, the NGOs demanded that an official resolution is passed in the State Assembly.
According to them, states like Mizoram have recently adopted an official resolution expressing strong opposition against the Bill.