A move by the Narendra Modi-led BJP government to legalise Hindus and other religious minorities infiltrating India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan has been facing a vehement protest by indigenous people of the country’s Tripura and Assam states.
Protesters say they will not accept the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that proposes to grant citizenship to religious minorities from the three neighbouring countries.
On Thursday, Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) called a 48-hour shutdown in Gandacherra of Tripura, protesting police’s “high-handedness” during a dawn-to-dusk strike against the bill on February 8.
The alleged police baton charge left at least 100 protesters injured, claimed IPFT.
Spearheaded by the All Tripura Indigenous Regional Parties Forum (ATIRPF), indigenous groups — IPFT, Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT), and National Conference of Tripura (NCT) — called the February 8 strike demanding revocation of the bill, which is now under the scrutiny of a parliamentary committee.
As a tense situation has prevailing since Thursday, when seven more people including police personnel were wounded during a clash between the protesters and the police, the Gandachhera sub-divisional administration has imposed section 144 to prevent further untoward incidents.
Meanwhile, many of the protesters have left for Delhi to stage a demonstration there on February 21 to press home their demand, said INPT General Secretary, Jagadish Debbarma.
“States in the northeast have long been suffering from an influx of illegal migrants from the neighbouring countries,” INPT President Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhwal was quoted by The Times of India.
ATIRPF Joint Convener Animesh Debbarma said: “Tripura has around 10,000 sq kilometers and a population of 39 lakh. Where are the resources in Tripura to accommodate this influx? We cannot support this Bill.”
The amendment bill was motivated by BJP’s vote bank politics and would only make way for illegal migrants to become Indian citizens, alleged Hrangkhwal, adding: “This will marginalise and dispossess the indigenous people, and the process of racial discrimination will continue in their own homeland.”