Normal life was on Thursday disrupted in Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh due to a 12-hour bandh called by the North East Students’ Organisation to protest “harassment” of students from the region in other parts of the country and influx of illegal migrants.
Shops, markets, business establishments, government and private offices, banks and education institutions were mostly closed in the four states due to the bandh which began on Thursday morning, according to official reports.
A massive rally was organised in Guwahati in Assam where NESO chairman Samujjal Bhattacharjee said, “Former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi signed the Assam Accord in 1985, but Sonia Gandhi, the UPA chairperson, has failed to implement it and stop illegal migration.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who represents Assam in Parliament, has also failed in this context,” he alleged.
He blamed Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi for trivialising the issue and said that the recent exodus of students and professionals to the Northeast following the riots in lower Assam was the outcome of the government’s apathy.
Not a Hindu-Muslim issue
“This is not a Hindu-Muslim issue, but the problem is due to illegal migration from Bangladesh and our movement will continue till our demands and all illegal migrants, irrespective of religion who have come after 1971 leave,” he said.
The Guwahati rally was attended by 26 student organisations.
‘Deport illegal Bangladeshis’
The NESO demanded immediate detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis from the North East, updating of the National Register of Citizens and its completion before the next Lok Sabha polls, sealing of the India-Bangladesh border before the next Lok Sabha polls and no land settlements of migrants who arrived after 1971 in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Bongaigaon districts in Assam.
A report from Imphal said that transport services in Manipur and with neighbouring states were also cancelled with roads in the state capital deserted and people remaining indoors. Attendance in government and private offices was nil.
In Nagaland, all shops and business establishments in the capital town of Kohima and the commercial town of Dimapur remained closed while the bandh hit normal traffic on the roads.
Attendance was thin in government offices, banks and financial institutions across the state.
Schools and colleges remained closed as the state government declared a holiday.
In Arunachal Pradesh, the bandh was total in all the districts of the state.
Mizoram bandh
In Mizoram, normal life was completely disrupted in the capital city of Aizawl with all government offices, banks, financial institutions, educational institutions and shops and business establishments closed.
Left Front ruled-Tripura was free from the shutdown with the NESO not having any organisation in the state.
Addressing the rally, North East MP Forum General Secretary Biren Baishya said that the issue of illegal migration from Bangladesh was raised several times in Parliament and would also be raised in future.
“We have been always telling the central government that this is not the problem of Assam or North East alone, but the entire country and we must save Assam today to save India tomorrow,” he said.
He also said that it was the responsibility of the government to provide security to people of the Northeast living across the country.
‘North-east united’
NESO Vice Chairman and Mizo Student leader S Khunte said that the North East was united on the issue of deportation of Bangladeshis.
“The problem faced recently by the NE people in mainland India was due to the government’s failure to check migration and deport Bangladeshis from the country,” he said.
Nagaland Students’ Federation Advisor N S N Lotha said “there is no place for Bangladeshis in the North East and if the government fails to deport them, indigenous people have to step in and carry the movement forward as their identity is under threat.”
The rally was also addressed by NESO leaders from Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh and a protest march was taken out later.