Civil society bodies call off protest to meet Shah

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Two Mizoram political parties to stage demo against CAB during Shah’s visit

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI/ AIZAWL, Oct 4: Even as NGO Coordination Committee, a conglomerate of major civil society and student organisations in Mizoram withdrew its decision to stage a protest rally during Union Home minister Amit Shah’s visit to Mizoram on Saturday, two political parties, however, have decided to greet the Union minister with demonstration to protest against the Centre’s proposal to reintroduce the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

The conglomerate of civil society organisations and student bodies of Mizoram on Friday said its leaders would meet Union home minister Amit Shah here on Saturday.

Shah comes to Aizawl on Saturday on a day’s visit during which he will inaugurate an exhibition of northeast handloom and handicraft products and meet state leaders. “We will submit a memorandum and discuss with him our displeasure over the Centre’s proposal to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955,” a leader of the NGO Coordination Committee said, adding that they had withdrawn the earlier plan to hold a protest rally.

The Committee has changed its decision after chief minister Zoramthanga urged them not to protest during the first visit of Shah, also BJP national president, to the state after becoming the Union home minister, he said.

Zoramthanga is the president of ruling Mizo National Front which is a constituent of the NDA and the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), both headed by the BJP.

BJP’s Mizoram unit president John V Hluna had also appealed to the civil society organisations of the state not to hold any protest programme during Shah’s visit. BJP sources said the Shah would first inaugurate the Northeast Handloom and Handicraft Exhibition and hold a meeting with the chief minister and senior government officials.

Besides, the Union minister will also hold a one-on- one meeting with Zoramthanga and then talk to the NGO Coordination Committee leaders on the issue of Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB).

Meanwhile, Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) and People’s Representation for Identity and Status of Mizoram (PRISM) will stage demonstration during the Union Home minister’s visit to protest against CAB.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference here on Friday, MPC president, Lalhmangaiha Sailo said both the parties will stage demonstration and display black flags at their respective offices to show their opposition to the proposed Bill during Shah’s visit.

The PRISM president, Vanlalruata said that Shah’s visit is part of the Centre effort to persuade the Northeastern region to form “positive opinion” on the Bill. He alleged that the Centre has lifted a “free movement regime” on the Indo-Myanmar border which facilitates easy contact between “Zo communities” of the two countries. He then appealed to the people of Mizoram to extend support to the two parties to oppose the CAB during Shah’s visit.

Three days ago, Amit Shah had announced that the CAB would be brought in Parliament again.

It had been passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019, but could not be placed in Rajya Sabha. The legislation seeks to facilitate the granting of citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Parsis from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh and entering India before December 31, 2014.

The move by the BJP-led NDA government to amend the Citizenship Act stirred a hornet’s nest in the Northeast and protests were held in several states on Thursday. The indigenous people of the region were scared that if the CAB is enacted, it would endanger their identity and livelihood.

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