NESO, AASU call for NE bandh on 8 Jan to protest citizenship bill, PM’s statement

GUWAHATI, Jan 5: The influential North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Saturday called for a Northeast and Assam bandh on 8 January to protest the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement that the bill will be passed by Parliament soon.
Modi told an election rally near Silchar in Assam’s Barak Valley on Friday that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 would be passed soon in Parliament as a “penance against the injustice and many wrongs done in the past.”
Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya, the chief advisor of the NESO and the AASU, told a press conference here on Saturday that the 11-hour bandh was called by the two organisations along with allied 30 ethnic organisations in Assam to oppose the bill and condemn the PM’s statement.
After a meeting with 30 ethnic communities to discuss its future course of action following the PM’s announcement, Bhatta-charyya said they decided to intensify their movement against “forceful imposition of the bill on the people of Assam and the Northeast region and to call the bandh was against our will. We are calling a bandh after 10 years.”
The bandh will be in force from 5 am to 4 pm, he said.
All scheduled examinations, the All Bodo Students’ Union, the Gorkha cultural meet, the Kesab Mahanta National Theatre Festival and essential services are exempted from the purview of the bandh, he added.
AASU president Dipanka Nath alleged that the “PM has no respect for democracy and its principles.
He has undemo-cratically imposed the bill on the people here. He has no respect for the sentiments of the indigenous people of the region. It is a conspiracy to silence the democratic voice of the indigenous people.”
The central and Assam governments have pushed us to the agitational path. The Modi government at the Centre by imposing the bill and the Sarbananda Sonowal government by not opposing… have inflicted mental torture on the indigenous people of Assam, threatening their existence, identity, language, culture and heritage,” he said.
Terming the bill “undemocratic, religion-centric,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi claimed that “the central government wants to impose Bangladeshis on us.”
Speaking about the agitation programme chalked out at the meeting, he said that on 7 January, the day the JPC tables it report on the bill in Parliament, copies of the report will be burnt across the state, and on 23 January there would be mass protest marches in Assam, followed by public meetings.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before 31 December, 2014. (PTI)