Published: 10th February 2019
North East Student organisations burn effigy of Modi, threaten stir if Citizenship Bill is passed
Student leaders are also angry that PM Modi in his speech didn’t care to mention the bill despite there being such an uproar about it across the North East
The students of Rajiv Gandhi University, North Eastern Regional Institute of Science and Technology and the Himalayan University burnt effigies of the Prime Minister on Saturday. The various student bodies were protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that is expected to be passed by the Rajya Sabha this week.
PM Modi is on a pre-election visit to the North Eastern region to lay the foundation of the Hollongi Greenfield Airport and several other developmental products. The agitating students wore black clothes, raised black flags and shouted anti-Modi and anti-BJP slogans when he visited.
AAPSU general secretary, Tobom Dai, said that for the sake of vote bank politics, the people cannot be made the sacrificial goat. "BJP has to realise that there an India beyond Kolkata," he added. The protestors called for immediate scrapping of the Citizenship Bill and warned the central government that if the bill is passed it will only cause more trouble in the North East.
Prem Taba from the department of Mass Communication at RGU said that for now things are pretty quiet but everyone is waiting for the Rajya Sabha's decision. "In case the bill is passed, the protests will definitely intensify. But till then we will remain silent as we have so far," he said.
“We want to send a very strong message to the PM Modi that this country is not a Hindu, Muslim, Christian or any other religions’ country but a nation for Indians. And it is the responsibility of the government to address our demand and prioritize us more than illegal refugees and foreigners,” SUN GS Kyagung Dafri said.
What is the Citizenship Bill?
The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship. Under the Act, one of the requirements for citizenship by naturalisation is that the applicant must have resided in India during the last 12 months, and for 11 of the previous 14 years. The Bill relaxes this 11 year requirement to six years for persons belonging to the same six religions and three countries. The Bill provides that the registration of Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders may be cancelled if they violate any law.
Why are people protesting it?
The Bill makes illegal migrants eligible for citizenship on the basis of religion. This may violate Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees the right to equality. The Bill allows cancellation of OCI registration for violation of any law. This is a wide ground that may cover a range of violations, including minor offenses (eg. parking in a no parking zone). The citizens also feel that the burden to provide for the immigrants will completely fall on them. The Bill has also been criticised for discriminating against Muslim refugees.