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Tripura tribals take out mammoth rally against Citizenship Bill


IANS Agartala
Several tribal parties led by the Congress held a joint rally near here on Wednesday to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
First the community then the party, was what the rallyists gathered at Khumulwng without flags, banners and festoons said as they demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Bill.
The unprecedented huge rally took place a day after 11 parties of the Northeast held a convention in Guwahati on the same issue.
Raising slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre, the tribal agitators burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Led by Congress General Secretary in-charge of Sikkim Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debburman participants in the rally held 20 km from here -- the headquarters of Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council -- unitedly planned to obstruct the passing of the Bill into an Act.
On January 8, amid strong opposition by various political parties, including the Congress, Left and Trinamool Congress, the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill but it is yet to approved by the Rajya Sabha.
Congress' Debburman said irrespective of party affiliations all the tribal parties and NGOs would unitedly fight against the Centre's decision.
Former legislator Rajeshwar Debbarma, who on Tuesday resigned from the BJP, former militant outfit All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF) supremo Ranjit Debbarma and a large number of surrendered militants took part in the rally.
They strongly demanded the withdrawal of the Bill which seeks to grant citizenship to migrants from six non-Muslim minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
According to the agitators, it would jeopardise the demography of the indigenous people of the Northeast, comprising of eight states.
Tripura's oldest tribal party INPT (Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura) General Secretary Jagadhish Debbarma said the gathering of the activists and supporters of at least six tribal parties, have resolved to intensify their agitation if the Centre did not withdraw the Bill at once.
"With the amendment of the Citizenship Act, the Indian government not only jeopardises the demography of the indigenous people of the Northeast, but will also make the non-Muslim minorities in Bangladesh, Pakistan and other countries insecure," said Pradyot Debburman, a scion of Tripura's erstwhile royal family.
"We have formed a new body -- Committee for Movement Against Citizenship Amendment Bill -- to continue the agitations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
"First community then the party, that's why we have gathered at Khumulwng without our flags, banners and festoons," Jagadhish Debbarma told the media.
The INPT leader claimed that a large number of activists and supporters of the IPFT (Indigenous People's Front of Tripura), partner of the ruling BJP in Tripura also attended the unprecedented gathering on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, 11 parties from seven states, excluding Sikkim, participated in a two-day convention. Its convener was Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.
They unanimously decided to send a delegation to meet Modi and President Ram Nath Kovind seeking the scrapping of the Bill.
Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga, who earlier in Aizawl threatened to sever relations with the BJP-led anti-Congress alliance Northeast Democratic Alliance (NEDA) if the Centre did not withdraw the Bill, also attended the Guwahati convention.

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First Published: Jan 30 2019 | 5:24 PM IST

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