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SHILLONG | Jan 11, 2019:

The three NGOs based in Meghalaya – Federation of Khasi Jaintia and Garo People (FKJGP), Hynniewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF) and Ri-Bhoi Youth Front (RBYF)- today organized a “black flag day” in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which was recently passed in the Lok Sabha.

The members of the three NGOs who gathered at Khyndailad shouted slogans to condemn the BJP led NDA Government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for “bulldozing” to pass the amendment bill which is against the interests of the indigenous microscopic populations of the whole Northeastern region.

The three NGOs also burned the effigies of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the BJP led NDA Government at the Centre.

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While addressing the public who gathered at the venue, HYNF general secretary, Sadon K Blah said that the Government of India has again betrayed the people of the Northeast.

“The first time they betrayed us was during the partition of the country in 1947. And now again they have betrayed us by bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016,” Blah said.

“The various NGOs of the region had raised their strong opposition on the proposed amendment bill before the members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC). But sadly the BJP led NDA Government had gone ahead in the passing the bill in the Lok Sabha despite stiff opposition from the people of the region,” HYNF general secretary said.

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He said that this clearly reflect that the BJP is not concerned about the future of the people of the region adding that they can go to any extend only to serve their vested political interest.

The HNYF general secretary also questioned the intention of the BJP led NDA Government stating “Is the government inviting all the 16 million Hindu Bangladeshi to avail the Indian citizenship?”

“I would like to ask the BJP if they have thought what will happen to the people of Northeast if all the 16 million Hindu Bangladeshi come to India. We should not forget that the Northeastern region has very long boundary with the Bangladesh. The Bangladeshi Hindus are preparing themselves to come to India as soon as the Bill becomes an Act,” he said.

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He recalled that the Government of India in the past many years have encouraged the Indian population not to have more than two children and has been spreading the poster campaign of “Hum Do aur Hamare Do”.

Blah said that the Centre had launched this campaign to reduce the population of the country.

“But what does it mean by inviting the people from outside to avail the citizenship of the country. Is this not a reflection of the political agenda of the BJP?” HYNF general secretary questioned.

Meanwhile, FKJGP president, Welbirth Rani said that the BJP led NDA Government had passed the bill despite strong oppositions from the people of the various States of the region.

“The proposed amendment Bill is an evil design against the indigenous community of the region,” Rani said.

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While recalling that the incident in Tripura where five indigenous youth were shot dead by the government machiner, he said that the people are no longer ready to take part in any protest against the amendment bill after this incident.

“We would not want such things to be replicated in Meghalaya where the local people would not dare to raise issues affecting their rights,” he said.

FKJGP president said that the opposition to the bill has to be raised throughout the region.

“It will lead nowhere if the protest is restricted only in Meghalaya. The various groups of the region need to come together to oppose this bill,” he said.

Rani further informed that the leaders of various groups of the region under the umbrella of Northeast Indigenous People’s Forum will attend the meeting in Guwahati next week to decide on the future course of action.

Meanwhile, in Garo Hills, NGOs including the GSU, FKJGP, ADE, AYWO among others continued their protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, by observing a ‘Black Flag Day’ across the region.

Black flag protests were held in Tura, Phulbari, Ampati, Williamnagar, Resubelpara among other places, making the same a pan region agitation.

With the Bill being passed by the Lower House of Parliament and only awaiting approval from the Rajya Sabha, NGOs have promised to up the ante in their fight against the passage of the Bill.

The protest today follows the 11 hour shutdown observed across Garo Hills on the bandh call by AASU and NESO on Jan 8.

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