The Citizenship (Amendment) Act will not be accepted in the Northeast and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will face agitation and protests when he visits the region next, the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) has said.
NESO is an umbrella organisation comprising of student bodies from eight northeastern states. The powerful and influential All Assam Students Union (AASU), Naga Students Union, Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, Mizo Zirlai Pawal, Khasi Students Union of Meghalaya and Twipra Student Federation of Tripura are a part of it.
“The CAA is based on religion which violates the Indian Constitution. We don’t distinguish on basis of religion but basis of identity,” NESO Chairman Samuel B Jyrwa said. He also said that there are many states in the Northeast, but psychological we are together and “stand as one”.
“Our secular values are not confined to the geographical boundary of our country. It is incumbent upon us to also appear as a secular country in our thoughts and acts,” AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said.
Another AASU leader Samujjal Bhattacharya said they will continue their “non-violent movement” against CAA in the Northeast. “Those supporting CAA are communal,” said Bhattacharya adding, “We are against both Hindu and Muslim migrants who have entered the Northeast.”
The student bodies also came out in support of JNU students who were beaten up on Sunday. “We hold PM and HM responsible for this. We all know who control the police,” Bhattacharya said and added, “protest will be held across the seven northeastern states in solidarity with the students of JNU.”
NESO had last month led the protests in the Northeast against the CAA, which grants citizenship to religious minorities from the three Muslim-majority countries in India’s neighbourhood.
Protesters blocked roads at several places in Assam’s principal city Guwahati and across the state. There were also reports of violence at some places in upper Assam.
Protests also took place in Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh – states with inner line permit (ILP) regime – which have been exempted from the purview of the new law.
There is apprehension among many groups that provisions in the new law could lead to inflow of a lot of migrants into the Northeast which can change the region’s demography. The Centre as well as the state governments have tried to allay those fears.