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Tue, 25 Feb 2020

Northeast Today

Tripura Smeared With CAB Stains

Tripura Smeared With CAB Stains
February 11
12:47 2019

The political powder keg that is the Citizen Amendment Bill (CAB), 2016, was passed at the Lok Sabha on January 8, 2019, in the midst of vehement protests all across the Northeast. A sense of grave betrayal and dismay loomed on the faces of the agitated citizens as the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), ignoring their hue and cry, pushed the draconian bill which poses a danger of dismantling the greater part of North East India. Tyres were burnt, protest marches were made but there was eerie radio silence from the officials of BJP. What was even more disturbing was the valiant defence of the bill later on. Kaushik Deori examines the Tripura perspective.

 

State in Turmoil

As soon as the bill was passed, Tripura went into frenzy in utter disbelief. The state is already maimed by the problem of massive influx of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and now after the bill got passed, it is now freewheel for one and all. For the uninitiated, what the bill does is, it allows illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Christian, Jain, Buddhist, Parsi religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh to settle in any part of India as a bonafide citizen of the country. The bill also revises the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be decreased from 11 to 6 years for such migrants.

A number of organizations came together, up in arms against the passing of the bill. As the clash picked up steam, the security forces started lathi charge and firing which injured at least 7 protestors, of which two have sustained bullet injuries and are in critical condition. This triggered more protest and agitation from all parts of the region and the North East Students Organization (NESO) along with over a hundred other organizations observed a consolidated strike against the BJP and the Police force. What’s more, internet and SMS services were suspended for 2 days right after the protests. It was marked a ‘black day’ in the history of the state as the indigenous communities were having to fight for their right over their own land.

The Tripura Conundrum

Tripura has always been a complex state as the indigenous/tribal communities have forever been at loggerheads with the Bengali hegemony. Even though it is a tribal state, 67.14% (2001 census) of the population is Bengali speaking. The Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT) has been demanding a separate state due to the popular feeling of discontentment with the government’s temperament towards the indigenous communities. The implementation of the new bill will mean more Bangladeshi Bengalis cruising into the state which will further add to the lopsidedness. The four-time Chief Minister of Tripura, Manik Sarkar of CPI (M) was thrown out of power owing to anti-incumbency and also because of his inability to curb the menace of illegal migration. In 2018, BJP was brought into power by an absolute majority with a hope that was on display by the party’s stance on dealing with the illegal Bangladeshi immigrant problem. That is precisely why the outrage was amplified. The outrageous treachery inflicted on the citizens of the state by the governing party was difficult to come in terms with.

Status Right Now

At the time of writing this piece, the Supreme Court of India sought a response from Central and Tripura state government to a PIL challenging the passing of the bill. According to the PIL, filed by an NGO named Tripura People’s Front, the bill facilitated the uncontrolled influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to Tripura, causing huge demographic changes in the state. The PIL also mentions, “It has introduced religion as a new principle into the citizenship law and can be conveniently branded as ‘communally motivated humanitarianism.”

 

In Conclusion

The governing party’s attitude towards its citizen even after rampant opposition against the bill brings back the age old question of whether the government is for the people or is it just a mindless beast which can go to any extent to consolidate its vote bank. The thought is in equal parts sickening and worrisome. The ease with which the people in power fall from grace, breaking the trust of its supporters is, for the want of a better word, abysmal.

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