Citizenship Bill Shuts Down NE, AGP Breaks Alliance, Ministers to Resign

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India has moved the Citizenship Amendment Bill for parliamentary approval on Tuesday amid massive violent protests in the north-eastern parts of the country.

Withdrawal of the AGP, which has 14 MLAs in the 126-member assembly, will not have any immediate effect on the future of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government that still has the backing of 74 MLAs.

CoHSO Chairman Robertjune Kharjahrin said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was a threat not only to the indigenous tribals in the NorthEast but a national security threat as well.

The Union Cabinet on Monday cleared the redrafted Citizenship Amendment Bill, which seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

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

It is estimated that millions of Bengali-speaking people in Assam trace their roots to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971 with India's help.

"We have extended support to the ongoing bandh today, so made a decision to postpone the formalities to resign for tomorrow", Bora said.

He said for AGP, "peoples' interest and not power was important and we tried our best till the last to ensure that the bill was not passed but when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted that it will passed, we could not remain in the government and had to withdraw".

The Conrad Sangma-led coalition government in Meghalaya too had opposed the Bill but desisted from calling off its ties with the BJP, which is a minor player with two MLAs.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress said the AGP should join hands with other parties to protest against the Bill.

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.

"We did not organise any movement on Tuesday as part of the opposition to the Citizenship Bill", said Debbarma, also the IPFT's chief spokesman.

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. The Home Minister said that the bill is meant for migrants who have settled down in states including Rajasthan, Delhi and Punjab.

According to a PTI report from Agartala, at least seven persons were injured, some with gunshot wounds, on Tuesday in West Tripura district, about 15 km from the state capital, when police and paramilitary jawans resorted to lathicharge and opened fire in the air to disperse Citizenship Bill protesters.

The AGP had entered into an alliance with the BJP before the 2014 polls and was opposed to the Bill since the beginning.

Ruling BJP's ally IPFT's Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that they have extended moral support to the NESO's shutdown in the northeastern region comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim. "It is the BJP which is responsible for AGP's quitting the alliance and they should step down immediately", said Mahanta.

"The Citizenship Bill will never be accepted".