News ID: 262773
Published: 0304 GMT December 10, 2019

Protests rage in northeast India over citizenship bill

Protests rage in northeast India over citizenship bill
AFP

Protestors in northeast India set fire to tires and cut down trees to block roads on Tuesday in a shutdown across the region hours after lawmakers approved the government’s new citizenship bill.

The legislation, set to go before the upper house on Wednesday, will fast-track citizenship claims from immigrants from three neighboring countries – but not if they are Muslim, AFP reported.

For Islamic groups, the opposition, rights groups and others this fits into Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims – something he denies.

People in northeast India object for different reasons, fearing that large numbers of Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, who they say are intruders, will swamp their homeland.

On Tuesday the region – that is sandwiched between Bangladesh, China and Myanmar – was crippled by a general strike called by dozens of organizations, with buses off the roads and most schools and shops shut.

“The bandh (strike) have drawn a total response in the northeastern states,” said Samujjal Bhattacharyya from the powerful umbrella group the North East Students’ Organization.

“We have made it clear ... that CAB (the Citizenship Amendment Bill) will not be accepted and we are going to intensify our agitation,” he told AFP.

India’s lower house passed the bill just after midnight following a fiery debate that saw one Muslim MP compare the government to the Nazis.

Once it becomes law, it will make it much easier for Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis, and Christians fleeing Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan to become Indians.

Modi’s government says Muslims from these three countries are excluded because they can choose to go to other Muslim countries.

Also excluded are other minorities fleeing political or religious persecution elsewhere, such as Tamils from Sri Lanka, Rohingya from Myanmar and Tibetans from China.

“This bill is in line with India’s centuries-old ethos of assimilation and belief in humanitarian values,” Modi tweeted.

“I say this again and again that this bill has nothing to do with the Muslims in this country,” Home Minister Amit Shah told parliament.

 

 

   
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