Shillong/New Delhi, Feb 13
People across the northeastern states rejoiced as the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is set to lapse on June 3, when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends, as the Bill could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha which was adjourned sine die on Wednesday, the last day of the Budget Session.
In Shillong, activists of the Khasi Students Union (KSU) took out a victory rally soon after the Rajya Sabha was adjourned sine die without the tabling of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The contentious Bill has been opposed by several civil society groups and political parties in the region.
Members of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), led by former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, along with the activists of North East Student’s Organisation (NESO), led by its Chairman Samuel Jyrwa, reached the residence of Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma in New Delhi to thank him for his concerted efforts to prevent the Bill from being passed in the Upper House.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities – Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians – in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.
“It is indeed a great and emotional moment for all the citizens of the Northeast, as well as the country. Even the students’ bodies, civil societies and NGOs stood together to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Today the sentiments of the people, especially those from the Northeast, have prevailed. The voice of the people has prevailed. It is a great moment for each one of us,” an elated Sangma told journalists.
Sangma also thanked all organisations concerned which came together to oppose the Bill for ensuring that the message from the people reached different leaderships at different levels.
Congratulating the indigenous people from the Northeast for “their united and concerted effort” in opposing the Bill, Jyrwa said, “NESO would like to take this opportunity to call this momentous occasion a ‘moral victory’ for the indigenous people of the Northeast. We could stall this Bill only because of the united and continuous movement of the people.
“This also shows that the government of India will not concede to our demands on a platter, but that we have to fight and struggle for the protection and survival of the indigenous people of the Northeast.
“NESO would like to give a strong warning to the government of India to not adopt or implement policies which are detrimental to the interest of the indigenous people of the Northeast,” Jyrwa said.
Besides thanking Sangma and Zoramthanga, the Chief Minister of Mizoram, for their bold stand on the issue, Jyrwa also voiced his gratitude to Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar whose party Janata Dal (United) even passed a resolution in its National Executive Council to oppose the Bill.
Jyrwa said the apex students’ body of the indigenous communities will not forget all those people who were injured during this movement, especially in Tripura, Manipur and Assam. NESO saluted their bravery and wished for their speedy recovery, he said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had recently assured the people of the northeastern region that the Bill will not cause any harm to their interests.