Citizenship Bill fallout: After AGP, will BJP lose another ally in Northeast

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The entire north-eastern region came to a standstill on Tuesday morning responding to the shutdown call of various students' organizations spearheaded by North East Students' Organization (NESO) against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

In Assam's Golaghat and Dibrugarh districts, protesters attempted to vandalise BJP offices, leading to the arrest of 14 persons in Dibrugarh and four in Golaghat, police said. "The Government of India by introducing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament has violated the understanding", it had said in a letter.

Amid dissent from opposition, walkouts by Congress and Trinamool Congress, and allegations that the bill discriminated on religious lines, Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Tuesday.

Besides Opposition parties, Bharatiya Janata Party's allies Shiv Sena and JD (U) would also oppose the Bill in Parliament.

Assam police spokesman Mukesh Agarwal said more than 700 demonstrators were arrested.

"It was not only the Muslim League that wanted to have Assam in that plan, but the same demand was also raised from inside the state at that point of time", said Sarma.

"We have extended support to the ongoing bandh today, so made a decision to postpone the formalities to resign for tomorrow", Bora said. The bill now grants Indian citizenship by naturalisation to communities such as Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Sikhs, fleeing persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. "We were the first state government and cabinet to come out with an official resolution that we are against the bill", Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma told journalists on Monday night.

This was an election promise of the BJP in 2014.

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The bill sparked a second day of protests in the northeastern state of Assam, where almost 4 million people, accused of being foreigners, were effectivelystripped of their citizenship previous year.

Soon after the Bill was moved, leader of Congress in the House Mallikarjun Kharge said that his party has several reservations on the Bill.

It is also part of the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA). The Assamese now feel this bill - giving citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh - will make a large section of illegal immigrants claimants to the state's resources. "It's a conspiracy of the BJP against the indigenous people of Assam and the region", said Bhattacharya.

The minister said that not much was done over the past 35 years to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for taking steps to promote the social, cultural and linguistic identity of the state.

"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues".

Zubeen also writes in his letter that Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, the Joint Parliamentary Committee and Sonowal have all "fooled the people of Assam." he further urged the government to rethink the bill.

The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta's statement in Guwahati that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the bill is passed in the Lok Sabha. Later, opposing the bill, members of Congress and TMC staged a walkout.

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