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Protests against Citizenship (amendment) Bill escalate in Assam
Protests against the Citizenship (amendment) Bill, 2016 have been surging in Assam despite the Union government trying to diffuse and placate the indigenous people of the state.

The Union government had on Tuesday announced that six communities viz, Tai Ahom, Koch-Rajbanshi, Moran, Motok, Adivasi and Chutea of the state would get the Scheduled Tribe status soon, which according to some, is an emollient step of the government to contain the burning situation prevailing in the state.

However, contrary to the expectations of the Narendra Modi government, the protesting organizations have been intensifying their protests against the controversial bill. The situation has aggravated more as students of three universities of the state announced their support to the protest by boycotting the class-rooms.

In separate press communiques respective students' unions of the Tezpur Central University, Cotton (College) university and Dibrugarh University have extended their support and taken part in the protests. However, some prominent persons including those who have extended support to the protest against the bill have urged the students' community not to boycott their class-rooms. 

On Wednesday, the police detained a group of protesters including Palash Changmai, the General Secretary of the Asom Jatiyotabadi Yuva Chatra-parishad in front of the state Secretariat (Janata Bhawan).

Interestingly, some state BJP leaders have also expressed dissatisfaction over the bill. Meanwhile, at least three leaders of the ruling party including its state spokesperson Mehdi Alom Bora have resigned from the party.

Popular singer Zubeen Garg has also extended his support to the protest apart from other artists and writers. It has been learnt that Lok Sabha passed the bill on Tuesday. Zubeen has strongly criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal over the bill. In an open letter addressing to the chief minister, the popular singer expressed great resentment against the governments of the Centre and state. Many social media users later shared the letter.  The Citizenship (amendment) Bill, which was reportedly tabled in the Rajya Sabha by the Modi government on Wednesday, seeks to grant Indian citizenships to those non-Muslim immigrants who had entered India from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan facing religious persecutions in their native lands before December 31, 2014.

On Tuesday, the protest which had been brewing in Assam spread to all the Northeastern states. In BJP ruled Tripura, around six protesters, reportedly, received bullet injuries in police firing. The incident occurred during the Northeast shut down called by the Northeast Students' Organisation (NESO), the umbrella body of almost all the students' outfits of the region.

The protest against the Citizenship (amendment) Bill, as predicted by some political analysts may bring huge challenge in front of the BJP ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha election in the Northeast as the chief ministers of Meghalaya and Nagaland have threatened to cut ties with the NDA over the controversial bill. On Tuesday Conrad Sangama and Neiphu Rio, the chief ministers of Meghalaya and Nagaland respectively, categorically stated their oppositions to the Citizenship (amendment) Bill, 2016. The BJP has two MLAs in Meghalaya and 12 in Nagaland.  Like the Meghalaya assembly house the Nagaland assembly house consists of 60 members.

The NDPF led by chief minister Rio won 18 seats and opposition NPF secured 26 constituencies in last Nagaland assembly elections held last year. In the last assembly elections held simultaneously with Nagaland and Tripura, the Conrad Sangma-led NPP won in 20 constituencies and then incumbent could secure similar number of seats.  Sangma formed the government with supports from the BJP and four regional parties.  The number of NPP MLAs in the hilly state is 21 as it has won a bye election of late.

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