Guwahati, February 9, 2019:
In the face of sharp criticism over Rafale, unemployment and farmers’ unemployment, Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the Northeast hoping to alleviate the peoples’ concerns over the Citizenship Bill, but he could hardly have been ready for what awaited him here. Mass protests erupted across Guwahati and the PM’s convoy was greeted with black flags at every turn yesterday as it wound its way through the city streets on its way to the Raj Bhawan.
His visit to Arunachal Pradesh was punctuated with many protests by indigenous students’ organizations of the state. Chaotic scenes were also getting played out at Guwahati as various organizations staged effigy burnings and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti members staged a naked protest again in front of ‘Janata Bhawan’.
Agartala was his third stop after he had announced a slew of developmental projects in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. In Tripura, he unveiled a statue of Tripura’s last ruler Birbikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur and inaugurated a 23-km long railway track.
Yet, despite all these announcements of development, a pall of gloom lay over the state of Tripura during the visit as the PM had already reiterated his firm stand regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 at a rally in Assam’s Changsari earlier in the day.
No one would understand the implications of the Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to Non-Muslim Hindus from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, better than the people of Tripura, who have been reduced to a minority in their state due to the incursion of illegal Bangladeshis.
Black balloons were released from Ujjayanta Palace, the former palace of the Kingdom of Tripura, as a mark of protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
Kirit Pradyot Deb Barman, head of Tripura’s Manikya dynasty and Working President of Tripura Pradesh Congress Committee, while commenting on the situation, said: “If he (Modi) remains stubborn, he should prepare for larger ramifications.”
He also expressed his disappointment over the Prime Minister’s refusal to listen to his allies and stated that the PM is trying to pacify the allies by taking bribes. “The fact is that the MLAs who are NEDA allies are no longer taken seriously by the BJP, and they should clarify with whom they stand, the people or the administration.”
He further added that he is startled that the NEDA allies, who claim to speak for the people, are not making their stand against the Bill clearer in view of the protests which have been going on.