Citizenship Bill: Manipur Mothers Continue To Protest, Security Tightened

Women protest
A snapshot of women vendors of the Ima Market sleeping in biting cold on the street of Manipur. Photo: Time8

At the famous Ima Keithel or Mother’s Market in Imphal, women are sleeping in the open air enduring the bone-chilling cold to protest the Citizenship Amendment Bill 

Imphal, February 11, 2019

Hundreds of women from four different markets of Manipur who have been protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) bill refused to return to their respective homes as they sat for an indefinite on-road protest on February 9th, 2019.

The women vendors said that they will not return to their homes and sit on the road until the Bill is scrapped in the upper house i.e. the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8th, 2019 after voting but was stalled at the Rajya Sabha on January 9th, 2019 following strong opposition from the Congress, Trinamool Congress along with other parties.

As many as six women were injured when the police tried to disperse a group of people who had gathered to protest against the Bill on February 11th, 2019. The women were protesting at the Ima Keithel or Mother’s Market, where the traders are only women. The police then resorted to firing of tear gas shells and used mock bombs to disperse the protesters. In view of the protest, security measures have been beefed up in Imphal by the state government.

It may be mentioned, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant nationality to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of their residence in India.

36-hour Manipur Bandh

Opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the People’s Alliance Manipur (PAM) conjunction of various civil society organizations in Manipur have called for a 36-hour total shutdown starting from 5 am on February 11th, 2019, to 5 pm on February 12th, 2019.

The PAM has urged the people to cease their chores during the shutdown and to take part in the massive protest against the Bill. The Convention also decided to go on a ‘fasting stir’ on more than 50 places across the state to oppose the Bill on February 13th, 2019, and other democratic forms of protests in the coming days.

Singing out loud

Opposing the Bill, musician Akhu Chingangbam and his band Imphal Talkies and the Howlers, a folk-rock band from Manipur, slammed the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government’s “atrocities” and “fascist” behaviour towards the Northeast region.

“You book people under NSA for speaking out. How big is your prison? I wonder! You been killing us with AFSPA. How big is your morgue? I wonder! ….”, the singer asks.

No place for you, No place for Hindutva, No place for fanatics, No place for your politics, We have learn how to have fun, Amidst the guns and militarisation, Here we are to take you down And your fascist regime – goes the lyrics of the song. The two-and-a-half-minute-long black and white video – Stand United Against CAB – was uploaded on the band’s YouTube page on February 4th, 2019