Terrorist groups in the Northeast have called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations on January 26, combining it with the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the region.
The boycott is being pushed by the Co-ordination Committee (CorCom), an umbrella organisation of banned terrorist groups in Manipur, besides the Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Assam-Independent and the National Liberation Front of Tripura. In a press statement, they accused the centre of trying to implement a hidden agenda through the controversial legislation.
"They detected more than three million "illegal migrants" during updation of the National Register of Citizens in Assam. This number does not include a large chunk of migrants from India and elsewhere. The indigenous people of Tripura have been systematically outnumbered and marginalised. The tribal states of Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are facing massive pressure by Indian migrants, particularly in urban clusters and resource-extraction areas. Manipur has been resisting the onslaught of the demographic invasion," the statement read.
The militant groups also protested alleged police atrocities against those protesting the controversial legislation, and the levelling of sedition charges against activists and intellectuals who have voiced their dissent.
Although terrorist groups in the Northeast routinely call for boycotting Republic and Independent Day celebrations, it has become part of a larger issue this time. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act-1955 for granting expedited Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from three neighbouring countries. While people hit the streets to protest against facilitating the entry of outsiders, social groups alleged discrimination against immigrants on religious grounds.
At least four chief ministers from the Northeast have raised their concerns on the bill until now. Recently, Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma and Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga visited the national capital in a combined effort to make the centre scrap the controversial legislation in the face of raging protests across the region. Mr Sangma's National People's Party and Mr Zoramthanga's Mizo People's Front are both part of the National Democratic Alliance.