Northeast comes to standstill with shutdown against citizenship bill

Northeast comes to standstill with shutdown against citizenship bill

Northeast comes to standstill with shutdown against citizenship bill

India's lower house passed on Tuesday legislation that will grant citizenship to members of certain religious minorities but not Muslims, sparking protests in the country's northeast.

Singh said the BJP-led government had eased visa norms for such migrants in 2015-16 but they could not apply for Indian citizenship as they were regarded as "illegal migrants".

The supporters of the 70 organisations said they would hold protests in front of offices and installations of Oil India Ltd and ONGC across the state.

The Cabinet has approved Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) in the Lok Sabha on January 7.

While addressing a protest meeting against the Citizenship Bill in Guwahati on Monday, Mr Mahanta stated that his party was all set to walk out of the alliance with the BJP.

An investigation has been initiated into the bomb attack on the BJP office, said Davis N.R. Marak, superintendent of police of East Khasi Hills district.

The issue of immigration from Bangladesh has spurred periodic public uprisings in Assam since the Indian government granted rights to Bangladeshis who entered the country before 1971 - the year Bangladesh won independence from Pakistan.

"We have extended support to the ongoing bandh today, so chose to postpone the formalities to resign for tomorrow", Bora said.

The controversial bill would grant citizenship to select groups - including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, but not Muslims - who have moved from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and lived in India for at least six years. Mizoram and Meghalaya governments have opposed the Bill by adopting resolution against it in their respective cabinet meetings.

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Critics say the bill, which offers preferential treatment to certain groups seeking citizenship, is a transparent pitch to voters as Hindu-majority India prepares for the world's largest election.

"We had categorically said that we will not allow the bill to be passed at any cost and tried till the last moment", he added. He said it is also for migrants who have come from the Western borders and have settled down in Rajasthan, Punjab and Delhi. "It's a conspiracy of the BJP against the indigenous people of Assam and the region", said Bhattacharya.

Bora, along with Kesab Mahanta, the AGP working president, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the party are ministers in the BJP-led government in Assam.

BJP Spokesperson Rupam Goswami said, "We have not got any information officially".

Ruling BJP's ally IPFT's Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that they have extended moral support to the NESO's shutdown in the northeastern region comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim.

Today, moments after the bill was passed, Assam's BJP spokesperson Mehdi Alam Bora resigned all party posts in protest.

"As the chief minister, it was his primary duty to ensure that people were not burdened with the bill".

Zubeen also writes in his letter that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Joint Parliamentary Committee and Sonowal have all "fooled the people of Assam." he further urged the government to rethink the bill. The indigenous people have been opposing the bill as they feel that granting citizenship status to immigrants will erode their limited opportunities in terms of employment and other social benefits.

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