The North East Students Organisation (NESO) said the bill was not passed in Parliament since the people of the region and other parts of the country were united against it and supported their fight.
Tribal outfits and other organisations in the BJP-ruled Tripura expressed happiness on Wednesday over the Centre’s failure to get the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha on the last day of its session before the general election. Students’ organisations, political parties and individuals opposing the bill said the collective movement of all against the legislation had won.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, however, claimed that a section of the people had misled others about the contents of the bill. The North East Students Organisation (NESO) said the bill was not passed in Parliament since the people of the region and other parts of the country were united against it and supported their fight.
“We got results in our favour due to a unified and joint effort of the people from north-east and other parts of the country. We are grateful to everyone who have supported us,” NESO joint secretary Upendra Debbarma told reporters. The NESO, an umbrella organisation of different student unions in the region opposed to the bill, had observed a bandh in the north-eastern states on January 8.
“We are delighted. Due to the collective movement of various organisations and political parties, the BJP government had no alternative but to let the bill lapse,” Tribal Students’ Federation (TSF) general secretary Sunil Debbarma said.
Six activists of the TSF had received bullet injuries during an agitation against the bill at Madhabbari in West Tripura district on January 9. Sunil Debbarma thanked Congress president Rahul Gandhi, JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar, Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray and other leaders for their opposition to the bill. He said the platform, Movement Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MACAB), of which the TSF is a part, would organise a “victory rally” here on February 18.
MACAB leader Dinesh Debbarma, who is also the Tripura Congress general secretary, said, “We thank everybody for supporting us in our movement.” State CPI(M) secretary Goutam Das said what happened in the Rajya Sabha was a reflection of the protests held in the region against the bill. He congratulated all the MPs for their role in Parliament.
The scion of the erstwhile royal family of Tripura, Pradyot Kishore Manikya, said the nation had won over politics. “Jati jeeta hai, party hara hai (the nation has won and the party has lost). But we have to be cautious. If they are elected again, the central government might try to bring it back through backdoor,” he said in a Facebook post.
The Indigenous Peoples’ Front of Tripura (IPFT), an ally of the ruling BJP, claimed that the bill was not placed in the Rajya Sabha as Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had acceded to the party’s request not to pass it. Biplab Deb said, “Some people were spreading confusion and misleading others. People might be protesting for political benefits.” State BJP spokesperson Ashok Sinha claimed that the bill was “unnecessarily politicised” and stated the agitators were unaware of its contents.
The bill, being vehemently opposed in the north-east even by certain allies of the BJP, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8 and the Centre had said it would try to get the Rajya Sabha’s nod in the Budget Session that concluded on Wednesday. However, it is set to lapse on June 3, when the term of the present Lok Sabha ends, as it could not be passed in the Rajya Sabha, which adjourned sine die on Wednesday.
A legislation introduced in the Lok Sabha but awaiting the clearance of the Rajya Sabha expires at the end of the term of the Lower House. The bill seeks to provide citizenship to members of religious minorities 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. The indigenous people of the region are apprehending that if the bill is enacted, it will endanger their livelihood and identity.