NESO, AASU call for north-east, Assam bandh on Jan 8 to protest Citizenship Bill
The influential NESO and the AASU Saturday called for a north-east and Assam bandh on January 8 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 the Parliament as a "penance against the injustice and many wrongs done in the past".
Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharyya, the chief advisor of the North East Students Union (NESO) and All Assam Students Union (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, Bhattacharyya said they decided to intensify their movement against "forceful imposition of the bill on the people of Assam and the North East 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, All Bodo Students Union, Gorkha cultural meet, Kesab Mahanta National Theatre Festival and essential services were exempted from the purview of the bandh, he added.
ASSU president Dipanka Nath alleged that "PM has no respect for democracy and its principles. He has undemocratically 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 ..." "Assam is ours and not a dustbin for Bangladeshis. The Central and Assam government 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 as "undemocratic, religion centric", AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi claimed, "the central government wants to impose Bangladeshis on us ..." Speaking about the agitational programme chalked out at the meeting, he said that on January 7, the day the JPC tables it report on the bill in Parliament, copies of the report will be burnt across the state and on January 23 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 December 31, 2014.
(With inputs from agencies.)