The entire northeast has been given protection under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the government’s most prominent face from the region, Union minister Kiren Rijiju, said amidst protests across the northeastern states against the contentious bill that was tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday.
Speaking at an event here, Rijiju said for the first time in the history of India, the people of the northeast were consulted over such an important bill.
“The concerns of the indigenous people of the northeast have been addressed thoroughly in the bill. I know that protests are going on in the northeast, there are concerns, but those have been addressed by the government.”
“The entire northeast has complete protection under the Citizenship Bill and we do not want the region to fall into the trap of some mis-campaigning,” he said, when asked to comment on the bill.
Protests against the Citizenship Bill continued to rock Assam as a large group of students fought a pitched battle with police personnel near the state secretariat in Guwahati on Wednesday, the police said.
Students in large numbers were seen proceeding towards the secretariat from all directions.
Another group has reached the Ganeshguri area, around 500 metres from the centre of power.
They broke a barricade on GS Road, following which the police resorted to lathicharge.
Teargas shells were also lobbed at the students, who threw the shells back at the policemen.
The northeast simmered over protests by students’ unions and Left-democratic organisations against the bill on Tuesday as well.
Rijiju, however, said the government had exempted the states under the Inner Line Permit (ILP) regime such as Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram from the bill, adding that while Manipur had raised concerns, Home Minister Amit Shah had announced that the ILP would be introduced in the state as well.
For Assam, he said the areas falling under the sixth schedule were excluded from the purview of the bill and the core issues of the Assam Accord were addressed.
He said the issues of concern in Meghalaya and Tripura will also be looked into.
“I thank the prime minister and the home minister for thoroughly examining the concerns of the people of the northeast. When were the people of the region ever consulted over any bill in Parliament?,” Rijiju said, adding that the protests in the region were taking place as the issue was not “communicated properly” or some people were “unwilling to understand”.