Thousands of people gathered in Meghalaya capital on Wednesday to participate in a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 even as various civil society groups threatened a "severe agitation" if the Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha.
Urban Affairs Minister Hamletson Dohling and Meghalaya State Planning Board Chairman, Lambor Malangiang were also present at the protest rally at Motphran, which was supported by more than a dozen civil society groups.
"Northeastern states will burn if this Bill becomes a law," Mr Dohling told the gathering as he appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh not to table the controversial Bill in the Rajya Sabha.
The Lok Sabha has already passed the Bill that seeks to remove hurdles in eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship despite opposition by political parties including the Congress and Trinamool Congress.
"This Bill is an open invitation to these religious minority groups. This Bill is politics which will benefit only one political party. The Meghalaya government strongly opposes the Bill. This government (led by Conrad Sangma) is with the people of the state," Mr Dohling said.
Urging the indigenous people of Meghalaya to stand united against the Bill, the North East Students' Organisation (NESO), the top students' body of all the indigenous communities in the north-eastern region, said the Bill will jeopardize the identity of the local communities.
"The Bill will be detrimental to the people northeastern states, especially Meghalaya, as Assam shares a large portion of the border with Bangladesh. The intention of the Central government is to reduce the indigenous people of the North-East to a minority in their own land," said NESO supremo Samuel Jyrwa.
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