Internet cut in Tripura as anti-Citizenship Bill protests rock Northeast

Demonstrators burn tyres during a strike called by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati. Photo:PTI

The North East states witnessed 11 hours shut down called by an umbrella body of students’ organisations of the region to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

An official notification stated that internet services have been suspended in Tripura for the next 48 hours from 2 pm on Tuesday (December 10) due to the ongoing protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

The order also prohibits SMS messages of all mobile service providers.

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“This prohibition shall be applicable to press messages also. Violation of this promulgation will be punishable under Section 188 IPC and also under the relevant provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017,” the notification said.

The step is said to have been taken to prevent mischief mongers from spreading rumours.

Most parts of the northeastern states on Tuesday (December 10) saw protests by students unions and Left-democratic organisations against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that was passed by the Lok Sabha.

Assam

People from various organisations stage a protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

A day before the divisive legislation will be tabled in the Rajya Sabha, normal life came to a halt in Assam’s Brahmaputra Valley during the shutdown, led by the All Assam Students Union and the North East Students Organisation (NESO).

The strike coincided with the bandh called by Left-leaning organisations, including the SFI, DYFI, AIDWA, AISF and AISA. Huge processions were seen in different areas of Guwahati, with protesters raising slogans against the controversial legislation.

Agitators engaged in a scuffle with security forces near the Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Assam when they were prevented from moving forward, police sources said.

Also read: Citizenship Bill: Amit Shah holds meet with Northeast CMs, civil society

In Dibrugarh district, bandh supporters clashed with CISF personnel. Three protesters sustained injuries as they tried to prevent workers of Oil India Ltd (OIL) from entering their offices in Duliajan.

Train services across Assam were affected as picketers blocked the tracks, a spokesperson for the Railways said.

Examinations were shelved and rescheduled by universities because of the bandh.

The strike, however, had little impact in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley.

Tripura

In Tripura, agitators participating in a bandh called by the NESO set a market on fire in Dhalai district, where shops were owned mostly by non-tribals, police said. However, no one was injured in the incident and the blaze at Manughat market was doused, another senior police officer said.

“Security forces have been deployed in the market but the incident has created fear among the non-tribals who owned most of the shops,” the officer said.

The bandh threw normal life out of gear in Dhalai, West Tripura and Khowai districts with residents remaining indoors while attendance in offices was thin, he said.

Also read: Student unions protest against Citizenship Bill in North Eastern states

Arunachal Pradesh

Train services in the entire state came to a complete halt and vehicular movement was affected, the officer said. Educational institutions, banks, commercial establishments and markets were closed while public and private vehicles were off the roads in most places of Arunachal Pradesh in response to the strike called by the All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU).

Attendance in government offices was almost nil during the bandh which began at 5 am, officials said.

Manipur

The All Manipur Students Union (AMSU) observed a total shutdown in the state from 3 am to 6 pm, with the organisation warning that it would intensify its agitation if the bill was not immediately withdrawn.

Meghalaya

Incidents of tyre burning and vandalisation of vehicles were reported in Meghalaya capital Shillong, as protesters lobbed Molotov cocktails at a police vehicle damaging it in Mawlai area, East Khasi Hills district deputy commissioner M W Nongbri said.

Additional police and CRPF forces have been deployed in sensitive areas, officials said.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill piloted by Home Minister Amit Shah was passed by the Lok Sabha with an overwhelming majority on Monday (December 9) night.

According to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, non-Muslim minorities, who fled religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and moved to the country before December 31, 2014, will be accorded Indian citizenship.

It, however, exempted tribal areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram or Tripura, as included in the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution, and areas covered under The Inner Line Permit system, notified under Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation, 1873.

Shah has asserted that the Modi government was committed to protecting the customs and culture of the northeastern states in an effort to assuage concerns that the proposed law will hurt their distinct identity and alter regional demography.

(With inputs from agencies)

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