Mizoram observed a rather subdued Republic Day celebration on January 26. Governor Kummanam Rajasekharan addressed an almost empty ground. The reason is being attributed to the statewide boycott call against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill by the NGO Coordination Committee. The Coordination Committee is an umbrella organisation consisting of civil society groups and student bodies.
Following this, two Indian Administrative Services (IAS) officers wrote to the centre saying that they were forcibly stopped from attending the event.
Mizoram Governor addresses near empty ground
Only ministers, MLAs and few top government officials were present at the event as reported by Northeast News. Responding to the boycott call by the NGO Coordination Committee. Many volunteers from the NGO were stationed near the ground holding up placards which said statements like “We do not need illegal immigrants in Mizoram”. Reportedly, the NGOs had initially planned for an absolute boycott. However, after the Chief Minister and other ministers met with the NGO representatives, both the sides came to a middle ground deciding that VIPs and award recipients would be allowed to take part in the parade.
The Republic Day parade which generally sees up to 30 contingents participating, this year only saw just six contingents and three band parties. The parade was led by parade commander DSP C Lalsawta and 2nd parade commander DSP Lalpianthanga. However, no incidents of violence were reported.
Many programmes were boycotted in Aizwal, the state capital and at district headquarters as well. Deputy commissioners were only allowed to hoist flags in small events on the office grounds.
IAS officers write to Centre
Two IAS officers, disappointed about what happened on January 26, wrote to the Centre. Bhupesh Chaudhary, the Registrar of Cooperative Societies said that what happened (the boycott) was “unthinkable in a free country”. He further said that the NGO members had stopped him and another officer at the gate. He claimed that the two officers were told not to attend the event and asked to return lest an untoward incident happens, as reported by Scroll.
In a separate letter, Additional Chief Electoral Officer Krishna Mohan Uppu said, “None of the executive magistrates and police personnel posted on duty at the venue did anything to control the representatives of the NGO who were preventing us from entering the venue.”
Furore over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill
On January 8, amidst strong protests by the opposition 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 flak from opposition and BJP ally parties. The parties who oppose the bill, claim that the bill is “against the fundamental aspects of the Indian Constitution”.