• ‘Are You With Citizens or Foreigners’ North East Students Ask Govt

    Ranju Dodum

    January 9, 2020

    The North East Students' Organisation (NESO) has once again voiced its opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), asking if the Government of India stands for its citizens or for foreigners.

    The NESO, comprising of eight major student bodies from seven states, has been opposed to the then-Bill and now-Act since 2016.

    With the protests against the Act continuing across the Northeast, especially in Assam where 'cultural protests' have become the norm, most are awaiting the January 22 date when the Supreme Court will hear several petitions challenging the Centre's decision.

    So far, at least seven people have died in the region from protest and government clamp down measures.

    A statement from the NESO today said that the "CAA is a grave threat to the identity and survival of the microscopic indigenous communities of the different states of North East", and that the porous boundary with Bangladesh has led to "illegal infiltration" since India's independence in 1947 and again from 1971 when Bangladesh gained its independence.

    It said that waves of migration into Assam and Tripura have threatened the indigenous population of the States.

    "The consequences of these large-scale migration resulted in the indigenous people of Tripura being reduced to a minority in their own land and they account for only 30 percent of the total population, and in 11 districts of Assam the indigenous people of Assam are reduced to a minority," it said.

    The NESO statement comes in the backdrop of mob attacks in the JNU campus by masked mob on the night of January 5.

    Another bone of contention has been the allegation that the CAA goes against the provisions of the Assam Accord signed in 1985 which had declared 1971 as the cut-off year for determining citizenship.

    The Accord was signed following more than five years of the bloody Assam Agitation that had left thousands dead and eventually led to the birth of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

    Citing several government reports and figures, the NESO said that there are currently close to two crore illegal Bangladeshis residing across various states of the region.

    "If this is not a threat to the microscopic indigenous communities, then what is," the statement from NESO added.

    "NESO does not differentiate a person on the basis of religion, as according to us 'a foreigner is a foreigner irrespective of his or her religion," it said.

    "This is a treacherous Act of the Government of India towards the indigenous peoples of the Northeast, whereby instead of making laws to protect its own citizens, it is bringing in a law to facilitate the illegal migration of foreigners and putting at risk its own citizens from external aggression. So the pertinent question is 'this government is for whom? Is the government of India for its own citizens or for the illegal foreigners from Bangladesh," the statement added.


    First published in The Citizen.

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