GUWAHATI, Feb 13 - A wave of jubilation swept through Assam and other North Eastern states, in ferment for the last few weeks, after the hugely divisive Citizenship Bill could not be tabled in the Rajya Sabha and was destined to die a natural death with the expiry of the term of the current Lok Sabha on June 3.
Celebrations erupted across Assam with opponents of the bill bursting crackers, distributing sweets and breaking into frenzied dancing on the streets.
Leaders of the AGP, AASU, KMSS, AJYCP—all antagonists of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, claimed the Centre’s failure to pass the legislation in the Rajya Sabha was a victory of democracy and of the people of Assam and the North East over “communal” forces.
“Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sarbananda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma hai, hai,” they chanted, as fireworks reverberated in cities, towns and villages of Assam.
The BJP, which stood isolated on the issue, with even its alliance partners in the North East raising a banner of revolt, however, put up a brave and belligerent face, with Himanta Biswa Sarma calling the development a “defeat” for Assam, and declaring his party will contest the Lok Sabha elections with “commitment” to the bill.
Sarma, who heads the North-East Democratic Alliance, the NDA’s version in the region, also declared the alliance will bring the bill once again after winning the Lok Sabha elections with a majority.
The contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 11 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.
It was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session on January 8 and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha’s approval.
As the news of the inevitable expiry of the bill reached Manipur, curfew was lifted in state capital Imphal. The restive state’s capital city was under curfew since Tuesday, but furious protesters were on the streets overnight, clashing with police.
Curfew was lifted this afternoon following improvement in the law and order situation, District Magistrate of Imphal West Naorem Praveen Singh said.
Mobile internet services will, however, continue to remain suspended for some more time.
Chief Minister N Biren Singh thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP chief Amit Shah, and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh for not tabling the bill in the Rajya Sabha and opting for consensus.
Student outfits, socio-cultural organisations and political parties were up in arms against the Centre, claiming granting citizenship to non-Muslims who came to India up to December 31, 2014, would violate the Assam Accord. Under the accord signed in 1985, all illegal immigrants who came after 1971, irrespective of their religion, were to be deported. – PTI