Vol. XLIII No. 16 April 21, 2019
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Protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016

Responding to the call of the CPI(M) Central Committee to organise protest demonstrations throughout the  country on February 4, demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, protest rallies and processions were organised across the country. Below we publish the reports from the states, that we received as we go to press.

Tripura

People of Tripura hit the streets on February 4, to register their clear opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Bill.  Protest demonstrations and rallies were organised across the state defying threats and intimidations by the ruling party.

Responding to the call of the CPI(M) Polit Bureau,  protest programmes were held in Agartala, Udaypur,   Teliamurra,  Sonamurra,  Kamalapur,  Ampi, Sabroom,  Belonia, Ambassa,  Kumarghat,  Amarpur and Panisagar. 

In Agartala, a protest march was organised before the meeting in front of Rabindra Bhavan. It was addressed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Manik Sarkar and Central Committee member Aghor Debbarma.Terming the bill as against  the basic principles of our constitution,  Manik Sarkar said,  the Modi government has decided to give citizenship on the basis of religion. This is a ploy to divide people’s unity, so that they don't agitate on the burning issues of livelihood.  But the number of people all over India who oppose the Modi government is increasing with every passing day. The entire North East is fuming against this bill. This bill is an assault on the very foundation of our constitution and is against the principle of secularism. This has to be resisted to save the country. We will continue our opposition till the bill is withdrawn. In Tripura too, they are destroying whatever we had achieved with the help of the people.  We must take to streets, defy all terror, resist this attack and prepare for greater struggles, he said. 

ASSAM

AT the call of the CPI(M) Central Committee, protest rallies and processions were organised throughout Assam, demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. In Guwahati, several hundred people gathered at the Guwahati Club Rotary and organised a protest meeting. Addressing the meeting CPI(M) Assam state secretary Deben Bhattacharyya, Central Committee member Suprakash Talukdar and Kamrup (Metro) district secretary Satanjib Das appreciated the initiative of the CPI(M)  Polit Bureau  to organise protest programmes throughout the length and breadth of the country on this important issue. The speakers echoed the criticism of the Polit Bureau on the Bill that this bill is intrinsically anti-constitutional and attacks secular fabric of the country. Moreover, this bill has endangered the relative peace and tranquillity of Assam and the North East Region of the country. Different ethnic communities residing in this region, having rich diversities, are now seriously concerned with this bill and they have apprehensions about the sustenance of their distinct identities. The speakers also made an appeal to be cautious against the nefarious designs of the BJP-RSS and other divisive forces to wedge a divide between the Hindus and Muslims as well as Assamese and Bengalis in Assam. They appealed the people of the state to stand united and build up united struggle demanding the withdrawal  of the bill.

Protest demonstrations and rallies were organised in Silchar, Karimganj, Hailakandi in Barak Valley. Similar protest programmes were organised in various district headquarters and sub-divisions such as Nalbari, Tezpur, Biswanath, Dibrugarh, Kokrajhar, Jorhat, Goalpara, Dhubri, Mangaldoi and many centres in Barpeta district.

DELHI

CPI(M) Delhi state committee had organised a dharna at Jantar mantar, New Delhi on the issue of proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which has been passed by the Lok Sabha and awaits the passage in the Rajya Sabha.

Tapan Sen, CPI(M) Polit Bureau member was the main speaker at the dharna. Addressing the participants, he said that the BJP led central government on the direction of the RSS, is harping on the divisionary issues and thus playing with the basic social fabric of our country.  Muslim minorities are being targeted at various places across the country.  A particular ‘food habit’ is being foisted in the name of Indian culture. Mob lynching is being used to create an atmosphere of terror in the country. A culture of animosity is being spread and propagated across the country. The bill to decide citizenship on the basis of religion is really very dangerous for a country like India which has a history of rich diversity.  Massive mobilisation of the people on the real issues is necessary to stop this and other divisionary agenda. It is the need of the hour in the national interest, Tapan Sen said.   

K M Tiwari, Delhi state secretary of CPI(M), Sehba Farooqui, P I Ravindranathan, Subir Banarjee, Brijesh Kumar Singh, Rampal, CPI(M) Delhi state leaders addressed the gathering. Satrupa Chakravorty, Aijaz Ahmad, JNUSU leaders and Yumnan Ratan, CPI(M) Manipur state secretariat member also addressed the participants. Anurag Saxena, Delhi state secretariat member of CPI(M) presided over the dharna programme. 

Speakers expressed deep anguish over the growing sense of disquiet and agitation of the people across the North East of the country over the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

They castigated that this bill infringes on the basic premise of our constitution of common citizenship regardless of diversities of caste, creed, gender, ethnicity and culture. The idea of unity in diversity stands threatened with this proposal which exclusively recognises religious identity as the basis for citizenship.

North East is one of those regions of the country which has a very rich diversity across the people and sensitivities based on cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic pluralism. There is also a sense of insecurity over the sustenance of the distinct identities of the communities residing in the region. Relative peace had come to prevail in this region in the recent times. But this Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is disrupting this very stability in the region.

Wide sections of the people have come out onto the streets protesting against this bill. It is extremely urgent to appreciate the sense of heightened insecurity and disquiet of the people and withdraw the proposed amendment.

CPI(M) Delhi demanded the government not to proceed further with the legislative proposal and withdraw it altogether.

MANIPUR

A protest meeting was held by the CPI(M) at the Manipur Press Club in Imphal. The meeting was also attended by other parties – CPI , RSP, AIFB, BSP, NCP, JD(S), AAP and PRJA.

Addressing the meeting, Kshetrimayum Santa, CPI(M) state secretary said that the Party demands the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Bill - 2016 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019. He appealed to the likeminded parties and people to stand unitedly till the bill is withdrawn.

Sarat Salam, CPI(M) secretariat member, explaining the bill and its impact on the country in general and North Eastern region in particular, said that the bill is unconstitutional as it was against Article 14 and 15 of the constitution of India and, it was based on religious basis. He also said that not only the opposition parties, some of the coalition partners of BJP are also against the bill. He appealed to the leadership of the political parties in Rajya Sabha, irrespective of political and ideological differences, to defeat the bill in the interest of the country as a whole and North Eastern region of the country in particular.

Addressing the meeting, L Sotinkumar, CPI Manipur secretary expressed that the protest call of the CPI(M) is timely and his party and other likeminded parties support the call and assured that they will work and campaign together in Manipur . 

The meeting was also addressed by Kh. Gyaneshwor, AIFB secretary, S Iboyaima, NCP president, N Kabita Devi, BSP president, K Loken Singh, JD(S) general secretary and K Manoranjan, RSP secretariat member.