Northeastern India shuts down to protest against Citizenship Bill

Published: February 12, 2019

STORY: A shutdown was called by authorities in northeastern states of Manipur and Nagaland on Tuesday (February 12) following widespread protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill to be tabled in Indian Parliament.

Locals in northeastern regions are opposing the bill for fear of losing their lives and identity. They also fear that the bill will cause a strain on their resources with the influx of people.

Women vendors at Khwairamband Ima Keithel (women market) in Imphal had announced a total shutdown of the market and were seen sitting in unison outside the market’s premises. We are fed up. We are worrying about our future, our generation for Manipur, said one of the protesters, Vimala Devi.

The city streets resembled a ghost town where shops and establishments remained closed and barely any vehicular movement. Armed security personnel and barricades were stationed in different parts of the city to avoid any violence.

Neighbouring Nagaland too bore a striking resemblance with normal life seeming to be at a standstill and barely any civilians on the road.

The controversial bill hopes to give citizenship to immigrants belonging to religious minorities persecuted in neighbouring Muslim countries. The bill seeks to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians, and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014.

Members of religious minorities often face discrimination and sometimes violence at the hands of militant members of Muslim majorities, particularly in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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