Imphal: The All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU) on Tuesday called for a total shutdown in the state from 3 am to 6 pm to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which has already received Lok Sabha nod.
The union, a constituent of North East Student’s Organisation (NESO), said it would intensify its agitation if the bill was not immediately withdrawn.
NESO – an apex body of students’ organizations in the northeast – has called for a shutdown across the region in protest against the legislation, which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to refugees who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Normal life was affected in parts of Manipur on Tuesday morning as shops and business establishments kept shutters down, and educational and financial institutions remained closed for the day, official sources said.
Vehicles – both public and private – stayed off the roads as demonstrators hit the streets in protest.
The agitators contended that the bill would threaten the identity of indigenous communities, despite Union Home Minister’s repeated attempts to allay their fears.
Laishram Athouba Meitei, the president of All Manipur Students’ Union (AMSU), said the protests would continue till the central government conceded.
He, however, hailed the Centre’s decision to introduce the Inner line Permit system in the border state.
“We will continue with our agitation till the bill is scrapped. Now that the bill has received Lok Sabha nod, we are making preparations to intensify our protest,” Athouba said.
ILP is an official travel document issued by the government to grant inward travel of an Indian citizen into a protected area for a limited period.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh had on Monday thanked the NDA government for its decision to extend the ILP system to Manipur. Currently, ILP regime is applicable in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Nagaland.
Athouba clarified that his union would not step away from the protest against the citizenship bill, despite the Centre’s assurance to introduce ILP in the state.
“We are glad that ILP regime was being extended to Manipur, but that would not stop us from holding demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Millions of infiltrators settled here illegally would get citizenship if the bill is implemented,” he added.
According to Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, non- Muslim minorities, who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and moved to the country before December 31, 2014, will be accorded Indian citizenship.
It, however, exempted tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution and areas covered under The Inner Line, notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.
The legislation, piloted by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, was comfortably passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday night as the ruling BJP enjoys a clear majority in the House.
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