Ahead of Modi's visit to the northeast, tribals demonstrate in Tripura against Citizenship Bill

Kashmir Times. Dated: 2/9/2019 12:05:04 AM

TRIPUTA, Feb 8 (Agencies): Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's two-day visit to the northeastern states of Assam, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh from Saturday, several tribal parties and NGOs on Friday held a massive demonstration in Tripura demanding withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to grant citizenship to migrants from six non-Muslim minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Opposition to the Bill stems from fears that it will give legitimacy to illegal migrants in India.
The protesting groups also demanded the withdrawal of sedition charges levelled by the Tripura police against three tribal leaders.
The demonstration took place in northern Tripura's Manughat, 100 km north of Agartala. Ten days ago a huge protest rally was held on the same issue in Khumulwng, 20 km north of Agartala, the headquarters of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC).
The agitation was spearheaded by the newly-formed Movement Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (MACAB), a conglomerate of several NGOs and four tribal outfits, including Tripura's oldest tribal party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT).
The North-East Students Organisation (NESO), which on January 8 called an 11-hour shutdown in the entire northeastern region excluding Sikkim to oppose the Citizenship Bill, was also part of the agitation.
NESO is an association of eight student and youth organisations from seven northeastern states.
All India Congress Committee (AICC) Secretary in-charge of Sikkim and the working President of the Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee, Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman, and Tripura Congress General Secretary and tribal leader Dinesh Debbarma also spoke at the demonstration.
"The sit-in demonstration was peaceful and no untoward incident took place. Vehicular movement was normal in the Tripura-Assam National Highway (NH 8)," Dhalai district police chief Sudipta Das told IANS over telephone from the district headquarters.
NH 8 is the life line of the mountainous Tripura.
MACAB Convener Upendra Debbarma and INPT General Secretary Jagadhish Debbarma told the media that their agitation would be intensified if the government does not meet their two demands.
INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl told the gathering that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill when it becomes an Act would jeopardise the demography of the indigenous people of northeast India.
Upendra Debbarma, who is also Vice Chairman of NESO, said that earlier this week a 15-member delegation of NESO had met Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Meghalaya Chief Minister and National People's Party (NPP) President Conrad Sangma, Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy, Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray and leaders of several parties in Delhi and Mumbai and apprised them about the issue.
The tribal leaders indicated that some tribal organisations might resort to agitation on Saturday during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to the state.
During his visit, Modi would unveil a statue of Tripura's late king Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya at the airport, inaugurate an extended railway line and open an academic building of the Tripura Institute of Technology run by the state government.
Elaborate security arrangements have been for the Prime Minister's visit.



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