Citizenship Bill protest: 6 tribal youths hurt in police firing in Tripura, normal life hit in Mizoram

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Agartala/Aizawl, Jan 8 (IANS) Six tribal youths agitating against the Citizenship Amendment Bill were injured in police firing in Tripura as normal life was crippled in Mizoram on Tuesday following an 11-hour shutdown called by the North-East Students Organization (NESO).

The Lok Sabha today passed the Bill that seeks to remove hurdles in granting citizenship to eligible migrants, especially Hindus, from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Political parties in the North-East, especially regional outfits, allege that the Bill is an attempt to make illegal migrants eligible for Indian citizenship on the basis of religion.

Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga on Monday had alleged that the Bill was against the principle of secularism and if passed, would be “harmful” to states such as Mizoram where there are many illegal Buddhist migrants from Bangladesh.

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In Tripura, tribal youths demonstrating against the Bill turned violent at Madhab Bari in western Tripura. The CRPF troopers unable to control the mob opened fire injuring six tribal youths, two of them seriously, said a police officer.

A jawan of the Central Reserve Police Force was also injured following an attack by the agitators, who also burnt down at least 22 shops in the area.

The official said that the CRPF and Tripura State Rifles jawans resorted to lathi-charge and burst teargas shells to bring the situation under control before the firing. Para-Military Assam Rifles troopers held a flag march in the mixed populated areas.

Ruling BJP’s partner in Tripura IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura) and opposition Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura extended support to the 11-hour shutdown called by the NESO.

In Mizoram, the ruling MNF, a constituent of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance), extended its support to the bandh called by powerful NESO, an umbrella body of eight students and youth organisations of the seven northeastern states.

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NESO Secretary General Sinam Prakash Singh, and Chairman Samuel Jyrwa in a joint statement said: “The Bill is being imposed on the indigenous people of northeastern region. This is very dangerous as it would reduce the genuine indigenous people of the seven states to a minority.”

The ruling BJP’s partner IPFT’s Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that the party has extended its moral support to the NESO’s shutdown in north-eastern states, excluding Sikkim.

Tripura’s oldest tribal-based party INPT (Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura) said the proposed legislation can result in changing the demography of several northeastern states.

BJP’s veteran tribal leader in Tripura Rampada Jamatia, supporting the Bill, told IANS: “While considering the Citizenship Bill, the sentiment of parties of the northeastern region should not be ignored.”

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Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Chief Whip in the Lok Sabha Jitendra Chowdhury told IANS over phone from New Delhi: “There is no scope in the Constitution to provide citizenship on the basis of religion. The cut-off date to determine the foreigners had already been decided on the basis of the 1971 Indira-Mujib pact.”

Introduced in the Lok Sabha in 2016, the Bill seeks to enable Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh without valid travel documents or those whose valid documents expired in recent years to acquire Indian citizenship through the process of naturalisation.

–IANS

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