Northeast Students Body Calls for NE Bandh on Dec 10 against Citizenship Bill
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Northeast Students Body Calls for NE Bandh on Dec 10 against Citizenship Bill

The bandh has been called jointly by all students’ organisations of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura.

The influential North East Students’ Union (NESU) on Friday called for an 11-hour Northeast bandh on December 10 to protest against the central government’s move to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim refugees coming from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.

NESO advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said the bandh has been called jointly by all students’ organisations of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura.

However, NESO has exempted Nagaland from the bandh due to the ongoing Hornbill Festival in Kohima and students of the state will stage protests in front of Raj Bhavan there.

The NESO has been maintaining that the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) is against the interests of the indigenous people of the region and facilitate the permanent settlement of those who have entered the country.

According to the bill, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities, who come from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan facing persecution there, will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship when the proposed amendments to the six-decade-old Citizenship Act come into effect.

The proposed new law, however, will not be applicable in the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime areas and those tribal regions which are governed under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.

The contentious CAB, which has generated widespread protests in the Northeastern states, is expected to be tabled in the Lok Sabha on Monday and it is likely to be debated and passed on December 10.

December 10, the day the bandh has been called, is observed in Assam as ‘Martyr’s Day’ to remember the first ‘martyr’ of the Assam agitation of 1979-85 against the illegal immigrants. Student activist Khargeswar Talukdar was killed in police firing on December 10, 1979. The CAB was an election promise of the BJP in the 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

A large section of people and organisations in the northeast have opposed the bill, saying it will nullify the provisions of the Assam Accord of 1985, which fixed March 24, 1971, as the cut-off date for deportation of all illegal immigrants irrespective of religion.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government had introduced the bill in its previous tenure and got the Lok Sabha’s approval. But it did not introduce it in the Rajya Sabha, apparently due to vehement protests in the Northeast.

The bill lapsed following the dissolution of the last Lok Sabha.