Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016: Nude Protest, Black Flags & Balloons Greet PM Modi In Assam
On January 8, the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was passed in the Lok Sabha. The bill that seeks to give Indian citizenship to six non-Muslim communities belonging to the three neighbouring countries – Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan has drawn massive flak. On Friday, February 8, PM Modi who was on a two-day visit to Assam, was greeted with a series of protests, which included the raising of the black flags, nude protests in many parts of the state and burning of Modi effigies.
Organisation like All Assam Students Union (AASU), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), North East Students Union (NESO), Adivasi student union and many others participated in the protest all across the state.
“We will not stop until the government takes the bill back”
On Friday, many angry and agitated protestors from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) stripped naked in front of the Janata Bhawan — the state secretariat to protest the “unconstitutional bill”. As the PM was in the state, they raised slogans of “Go back Modi” and also released black balloons in protest.
“We are against the bill which is against our fundamental rights. This is unacceptable for the people of Northeast and especially for the natives of Assam, who will be outnumbered if the bill gets implemented,” said Pradip Haloi, state executive of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti while talking to The Logical Indian.
KMSS is an influential organisation in Assam, which along with its 70 other outfits called for a bandh in different parts of Assam. According to the reports, the major efforts of the Bandh was seen in the upper Assam districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar, Lakhimpur and Jorhat with vehicles remaining off the road and shops and business establishments closed.
Haloi further said, “During 1951-1971, the state saw a huge number of migrant influx, which we have made peace with and which is why we are waiting for Assam’s National Register of Citizens (NRC). According to the NRC, any migrants that have come to India after March 24, 1971, would not be considered as Indian citizens. But now the government is coming with this bill which would give citizenship to everyone (Hindus) now. This invalidates the NRC.”
The change in BJP’s stand
The protestors also said that BJP came to power in the state with the promise that it will not allow illegal migration into the state. “He first said that there will be no more migration in Assam, now he is saying that all Hindus from these neighbouring countries can come. See, we are clear with our stand, and it is nothing to do with any religion. We don’t want any more migration in the state whether they are Hindu, Muslim or Christian.”
“We will not withdraw our protest even if our Bhagwan or Allah tells us,” said Haloi with a stern voice.
Talking about the police atrocity in the state over the protests, he said that the police has now stooped down to Gunda Raj. According to him, on Friday the police have arrested ten people from KMSS while they were protesting outside the secretariat.
When asked what will the next step by the organisation, he said that the people of Assam; men, women, old and young would come out to protest in a most democratic manner.
More people came in front
Meanwhile, All Assam Students Union (AASU), also raised black flag and slogans in protest of the bill. In the last few days, the members of the organisations also organised nude protests at different parts of the state.
General Secretary of All Assam Students Union, Lurinjyoti Gogoi told us that the people of Assam are opposing the bill as it is against our constitution and Assam accord’s clause 6 – Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the culture, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
Talking about the nude protest, he said that the demonstrations are to save the identity of indigenous and native Assamese. “Which is why we are holding nude protests that are not at all violent in nature,” he said.
He added that the Modi government is doing vote bank politics here. They do not care about the people here, all they care about is their votes.
“We do not have adequate jobs, schools, colleges and hospitals here. The indigenous people have already lost their land because of the influx of people. Here, we are the legal citizens of the country, and the government should first take care of us and then think about others. Instead, the government wants to bring in more and more people leaving the citizen of the country in the darkness,” he lamented.
“The protests would continue”
Earlier, on January 8, the day the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, AASU, along with 30 more indigenous organizations held a similar protest. The agitators stripped naked and shouted out slogans like ‘Bangladeshis go back’ and ‘Narendra Modi Murdabad’. Protest against the bill were also witnessed in the national capital as well.
Gogoi further told us that AASU has 432 regional units – college and school units – and if the government would not take its bill back then the protest will intensify.
What is the controversial bill?
Introduced by Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the bill claims that the six communities- Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis can take citizenship in India. While introducing the proposal, the union minister said that these six communities face “discrimination and religious persecution” and they “have no place to go, except India.”
The bill has reduced the mandatory requirement of 12-year stay in the country to seven years to avail the citizenship if they do not possess any document. The bill says that the people who belong to these six communities can seek Indian citizenship if they have come to India before December 31, 2014, reports The Hindu.