Cabinet to hold final consultative meeting on 20 Nov
ITANAGAR, Nov 18: Joining the widespread anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) agitation in the North East region, the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) on Monday staged a massive peaceful protest rally in solidarity with the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) from the IG Park to the Raj Bhavan.
The protest rallies coincided with the first day of the winter session of Parliament during which the bill is proposed to be introduced.
The NESO also submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah against the CAB through the governors of the north eastern states.
Here, the AAPSU sent a strong message to the Centre in a thunderous slogan, saying: “We will shed blood and lay lives, but not give an inch of land to the refugees”.
Various community based students’ organisations and federal units of the AAPSU, besides the Rajiv Gandhi University Students’ Union have joined the protest march to support the NESO’s movement against the contentious legislation. The BJP government at the Centre is tabling the CAB again this week.
The NESO and AAPSU termed the CAB as anti-secular legislation “just to accommodate the selective religious oppressed people.”
Later, a one-point memorandum of the NESO, opposing the CAB was submitted to Arunachal Pradesh Governor BD Mishra, which was received by the secretary to the governor.
Addressing the media on the sideline of the peaceful protest rally, AAPSU president Hawa Bagang said, “We are Indians and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also an Indian. If he (Modi) cannot understand our sentiments, who will?”
The AAPSU president termed the CAB an “anti-northeast region bill” and a “political motive.”
“We have no place for foreigners in Arunachal. Show us a place or land where Pakistani, Afghani and Bangladeshi refugees would accommodate us,” said Bagang.
“In 1960, the Congress government made a blunder by bringing the Chakmas, Hajongs and Tibetans to Arunachal. The BJP is going to repeat the same mistake,” he said, while also clarifying that the AAPSU and NESO are not against any community or religion, but against refugees.
“Our one-point demand says that we oppose the CAB and it should be scraped immediately. Chief Minister Pema Khandu should also strongly oppose the CAB as it will have far-reaching impact on the state in the future. It should not be politicised,” he added.
Strongly opposing the CAB, NESO coordinator Pritam Waii Sonam said, “Indigenous tribes of Arunachal Pradesh hardly have a population of six lakh, but the infiltrators are about six lakh themselves.
Our fight is against indigenous and non-indigenous. We do not have an inch of land for foreigners.”
“If the Government of India wants to accommodate them, they should be accommodated in Rajasthan and Gujarat and other parts of India. Why the Northeast? “We need development, not refugees,” he said while casting aspersion that there would be unrest in the North East region if the CAB is passed in the parliament.
Former AAPSU and NESO general secretary Gumjum Haider said, “the North East is not a dumping ground to accommodate refugees. We have been fighting against the refugees. We are urging the government for constitutional protection. This is anti North East people.”
“If Bihar is ready to keep those refugees, we have no issue. If UP’s Yogi Adityanath wants to keep them, we have no issue. We are not against any community or particular religion, but we are against the CAB, which is against the North East,” Haider added.
Meanwhile, a final consultative meeting with all the stakeholders has been scheduled to take place on 20 November under the chairmanship of Home Minister Bamang Felix at the Dorjee Khandu auditorium of the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly at 10 am.
This was decided by the Cabinet during its meeting on Monday after threadbare discussion on the report submitted by the consultative committee on CAB, headed by the Home Minister.
Considering the sensitivity of the issue, it was decided to have a final discussion with all the stakeholders together and forward the recommendations arrived through such discussions to the Central Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, the chief minister’s office informed.
In Assam, effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi were burnt. Sit-ins were also launched in various places of Guwahati and effigies of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal were burnt by youth organisation Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad in different parts of the state as a mark of protest against the CAB.
The protests were also held by farmers’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, and Left-Democratic Mancha, Assam among others.
“Assam and the north east are not dumping grounds for illegal Bangladeshis. As per the Assam Accord we have already accepted all Bangladeshis – both Hindu and Muslims who entered Assam illegally upto 1971. We will not accept those who entered Assam after that year,” NESO and All Assam Students’ Union chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharyya said.
“This movement in Assam and the north east region will continue”, he asserted.
Commenting on the contention of Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and other BJP leaders that a lot of problems will be solved if the CAB is enacted, Bhattacharya said, “The Bill will safeguard the vote bank of BJP. They (BJP) want the votes of illegal Bangladeshis. They have the numbers in Delhi (Parliament) and they will impose the CAB on us.
AASU president Dipanka Nath said, “The CAB is the death knell for the Assamese community. It will make the Assamese people extinct. It will open the door for more Bangladeshis to enter Assam.”
Claiming that Assam has rejected the CAB, Nath said “We will oppose till our death this Bill, which is harmful to the existence of the Assamese community”.
AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said that Assam and Tripura have taken the largest burden of illegal Bangladeshis.
“Imposition of CAB in the North East is unacceptable to its people as their sentiments have been ignored despite the public rejecting the bill,” he added.
In neighbouring Meghalaya, the Khasi Students’ Union held a sit-in near the third secretariat here protesting against the bill, which it said, will have a negative impact on the people of the entire region.
A group of anti-CAB protesters will launch a stay-off-the-road protest from 7 pm on Monday till 6 am Tuesday.
State Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had met Shah last week and urged the Centre to consider withholding passing of the CAB in its current form.
A rally was taken out in Aizawl by the Mizoram apex students body Mizo Zirlai Pawl (MZP) where protestors said the Centre’s decision to introduce and pass the bill will create a huge demographic imbalance in the north east as millions of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh were residing in the area.
MZP leaders expressed fear that the bill, if legislated, would legalise thousands of Chakmas who had illegally migrated to Mizoram from the Chittagong Hill Tract in Bangladesh.
It submitted a memorandum to Mizoram Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai at the Raj Bhavan stating its strong opposition to the proposed legislation of CAB and also demanded that the north eastern states be exempted from its purview. (With PTI inputs)