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After 2 Years, Anti-CAA Protests Break Out in Northeast Again

The protestors are demanding scrapping of CAA, extension of the Inner Line Permit and update of NRC in the entire region.
Police personnel stand guard as North-East Students Organisation (NESO) leaders and supporters stage a protest demanding scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in Guwahati.

Police personnel stand guard as North-East Students Organisation (NESO) leaders and supporters stage a protest demanding scrapping of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), in Guwahati. Image Courtesy: ANI

New Delhi: After a gap of almost two years, protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, or CAA, returned to the Northeast on Wednesday. While the All Assam Students Union (AASU) organised a protest meeting against CAA, the North East Students' Organisation (NESO) held protests against the contentious act across the entire region.

NESO on Wednesday held a three-hour protest in the seven state capitals of the region seeking, among others, the repeal of the contentious CAA, an extension of the Inner Line Permit (IPL) and the update of the NRC in the entire region. Assam had seen its first anti-CAA protests in 2019, which continued until 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic struck.

Reports said more protests would be staged in the coming days with the aim to draw attention to the prevailing situation in different Northeastern states.

The protests in the region against the CAA are different from what was witnessed at Shaheen Bagh or elsewhere in the country. Northeast organisations have been against the CAA because they fear it will open floodgates for illegal migrants, threatening the identity, language and culture of the indigenous communities. These protests are not linked to religion. The CAA elsewhere is widely seen as “anti-Muslim” and “unconstitutional” as it makes religion the main criteria for acquiring citizenship.

NESO chairman Samuel B. Jyrwa, its secretary-general Sinam Prakash Singh, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya and its president Dipankar Nath told The Telegraph that the CAA has to be repealed and that they will continue to protest till it is done and the inner line permit (ILP) extended to more states in the Northeast along with the update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Only Assam has an updated NRC but it is yet to be notified.

The ILP is a travel document required to enter Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Nagaland and Manipur. Neso wants it introduced in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya as well to check influx.

“We want the immediate repeal of the CAA. We want the ILP and the NRC. Neso is against illegal migrants irrespective of religion. We are not against any religion but against illegal influx. The Northeast cannot be the dumping ground of illegal immigrants. We will keep protesting till our demands are met,” Singh told The Telegraph.

One of the triggers for Wednesday’s protest was the reported assurance by Union Home Minister Amit Shah recently that the CAA will be implemented.

“We won’t accept the CAA. It has to go because it nullifies the 1985 Assam Accord. We also want the ILP shield against influx, and implementation of Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord that provides legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people,” Nath said.

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