Protest against CAB unabated; CSOs hail Aribam Syam

IMPHAL, 4th Feb: Mass protest against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 continued in the state with various organisations, meira paibis and educational institutes organising sit-in protests, burning effigies, forming human chain and taking out torch rallies.
Manipur People against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 (MANPAC) on Monday honoured renowned film maker and senior citizen Aribam Syam Sharma for his courageous act of returning the Padmashree award conferred to him by the Government of India as a mark of protest against the passing of the Bill by the Lok Sabha.
Addressing media persons at his Thangmeiband Lourungpurel Leikai residence, Syam contended that senior citizens of the state must make their stand on the issue and actively participate, since CAB 2016 poses threat to existence of the indigenes.
The central government is supposed to treat all 29 states equally but it is unfortunate that it has ignored the voices of dissent raised by people in 9-10 states against the Bill, clearly indicating that the state is no longer secure. For a state to become secure the government must listen to its people or it will lead to the demise of minority groups/communities, he contended.
Furthermore, if CAB 2016 were to come into effect; the unique identify, art and culture of the state will be lost. However, despite over 90 per cent of the Northeast populace fiercely declaring their objections against the Bill, the central government has decided to ignore the cries and protests for withdrawal of the Bill. Therefore, it is not the time to remain silent, Syam remarked and said: “Being a democracy, the Bill should be withdrawn as per the wishes of the people”.
Stating that Bill will only make bring about hatred and mistrust in the country, the filmmaker urged the people of the northeastern states to stand united against the Bill. Although states that are protected by the Constitution are against the Bill, Manipur has no such safeguards and as such, the state government should oppose the bill instead of ignoring the CAB 2016 issue altogether, he contended.
“It is time for all sections of the society, the young, the intellectuals and the elderly citizens to put up a united front against CAB 2016”, he asserted.
Lauding Aribam Syam Sharma for giving courage to state CSOs through his act of returning the Padmashree award; MANPAC convenor Yumnamcha Dilipkumar said that such acts of eminent personalities on the issue renews the energy and inspires all those who are involved in the protest for withdrawal of the Bill.
CIRCA advisor Ningthouja Lancha said that Aribam Syam Sharma’s act of returning the Padmashree award is symbolic, especially after MANPAC’s announcement of not honouring any national symbols of the country until CAB 2016 is withdrawn unconditionally. Not only his action portrays the people’s anger towards the Bill, it will further inspire other personalities in various fields to follow his example, he added.
Further stating that Aribam Syam Sharma’s act of returning the Padmashree award will forever be etched in the minds of the people, Lancha said that both MANPAC and the people would forever remain indebted to him. As such, they had come to express their gratitude to the filmmaker, he conveyed.
Leaders of various state CSOs also attended the occasion.
On Monday, Manipur University Teachers’ Association (MUTA), Manipur University Students’ Union (MUSU) and Manipur University Staff Association (MUSA) organised a sit-in protest against the move to impose CAB in North East states in front of MU gate.
The protesters put up placards inscribed with slogans like ‘Love the people of NE’, ‘No to CAB, respect people sentiment’, ‘CAB an Injustice to North East people’, ‘CAB makes NE Anti-Indian’ and ‘We oppose colonial rule’.
Speaking on the sidelines of the protest, MUTA general secretary Prof Lisam Shanjukumar Singh declared that everyone from Manipur University community is against the Bill as the indigenous people of the region will be wiped out if the Bill is enacted. The protest is to save the future generations, he added.
Protesting against the Bill, students of Imphal College burned effigies of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah in front of their college at Tiddim Road.
Sit-in protests were also held at Singjamei Mayengbam Leikai, Singjamei Parking, Singjamei Top Leikai, Singjamei Bridge, Wangkhei Meihoupham, Kongba Keithel, Changangei Tulihal Airport gate, Changangei Ucheckon, Khongman Manjil, Brahmapur Nahabam Leikai , Patsoi Part-II, Major Khul, Sagolband Tera Lukram Leirak, Naoremthong Khullem Leikai, Uripok, Nagamapal and Pishumthong.
Speaking at the protest held at Thongju, senior politician Okram Joy cautioned that there is still uncertainty over the Bill even if it is not listed in the business list of Rajya Sabha. Both the Prime Minister and the BJP president are stating that the Bill will be passed in the ongoing session of Rajya Sabha. At the same time, President Ram Nath Kovind had hinted at passing the Bill. As such, the fight against the Bill should be sustained, he said.
Maintaining that the Bill is framed on ethnic and religious line, he said that CAB is more dangerous than the atomic bombs dropped over Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Earlier on the night of February 3, torch rallies were taken out in different places opposing CAB.
Led by People Alliance Manipur, torch rallies were taken out at NESA Nongpok Sekmai, Shikong, Hijam Khunou, Sikhong Muslim, Ukhongshang and Lilakambong.
A torch rally was also taken out by Kounu Leima Chanura Lup at Senjam Chirang.
Meanwhile, in Thoubal district, various schools and meira paibi groups organised protest against the CAB on Monday.
Students of KM Blooming Higher Secondary School, Khangabok formed human chain along NH-102 (Imphal-Moreh Road) and shouted slogans in protest against the Bill.
A rally was also taken out by the students of Standard English School, Khongjom from their school till Khongjom Keithel denouncing CAB.
Protests were also organised by students of Royal Academy Higher Secondary School, Wangjng; Paradise English School, Thoubal and Islamic English School, Lilong Hangamthabi.
On the other hand, sit-in protests were staged at Athokpam Khunou Lamjin, Thoubal Wangmataba Devi mandop, Tangjeng, Charangpat Maning Leikai and Hiyanglam Wabagai Terapishak Khongnangkhong Keithel, while Meira Paibi members and youths of Kakching and Pallel took out torch rallies in their respective localities. Similar torch rally was also carried out against the Bill at Keirak on Sunday evening.
Joint Committee Tiddim (JCT) in association with Women’s Welfare Association Terakhongshngbi organised a sit-in protest against CAB at Terakhongshangbi Makha Leikai on Monday.
The committee along with Leimarol Apunba Meira Lup Khudekpi, Toronglaobi Makha Phairembam Leirak Meira Paibi Lup and Women’s Welfare Association Tronglaobi Makha also organised another sit-in protest at Tronglaobi Khudekpi.
JCT chief convenor SK Mangang, co-convenor Y Thomba, Khudekpi Youth Club general secretary M Robendro, Leimarol Apunba Meira Lup Khudekpi secretary T Roma and Women’s Welfare Association Terakhongshngbi secretary L Purnima spoke at length on the possible outcome of the Bill during the protests.

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