Citizenship Amendment Bill becomes act with President Kovind's assent as violence grips northeast

The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was cleared in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, became an Act on Thursday night after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent.

Citizenship Amendment Bill becomes act with President Kovind's assent as violence grips northeast

NEW DELHI: The contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill, which was cleared in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, became an Act on Thursday night after President Ram Nath Kovind gave his assent.

According to an official notification, the Act comes into effect with its publication in the official gazette on Thursday.

According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and facing religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but given Indian citizenship.

The Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019, was passed in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday (December 11) with 125 votes in favour and 99 against it. Earlier, the bill was passed in Lok Sabha with a thumping majority on December 9, after an intense debate.

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This comes even as the bill triggered violent protests in Assam with high-scale tensions witnessed in Tripura and Meghalaya despite assurances by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah that the Bill will not harm the interests of the people of the northeast.

In Assam, the internet services were snapped in several places and the suspension has been extended in for 48 hours beginning Thursday noon, said Additional Chief Secretary (Home and Political), Kumar Sanjay Krishna on Thursday. An indefinite curfew has also been imposed in Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Barpeta, Nalbari, Jorhat, Golaghat, Sonitpur, Tezpur and Biswanath. Curfew imposed in Assam’s Tinsukia from 5 pm Thursday to 5 am on Friday. All schools and colleges have been closed till December 22, 2019.

At least three people have died during the protests in the state which began on Monday, with the passing of the bill in Lok Sabha. One protestor died in alleged police firing in Lachit Nagar area of Ulubari in Guwahati. The deceased was an employee of the canteen at Sainik Bhavan and was declared dead at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH). Among the deceased two were from Guwahati (Gorchuk and Lachit Nagar area) and the third person was from Tinsukia.

All trains from Guwahati towards upper Assam region have been cancelled, according to the Chief Public Relation Officer (CPRO), North-East Frontier Railway. Most flights to and from Guwahati and Dibrugarh have been cancelled by various airlines, while the railways suspended all passenger train services to Assam. 

"Indigo Airlines has cancelled one flight to Guwahati from Kolkata. The flights to Dibrugarh are being cancelled by most airlines due to the ongoing protests. However, Indigo will operate a ferry flight to bring back the stranded passengers from Dibrugarh," an NSCBI Airport spokesperson said. Vistara on Thursday cancelled two flights to Guwahati and Dibrugarh. SpiceJet and GoAir have also announced the cancellation of their flights and fee waiver to all passengers travelling to/from Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Jorhat till December 13.

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi on Thursday urged the protestors to not lose control while registering their protest and maintain peace in the state. "I would like to request the students, brothers and sisters, protesting against Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam, to not lose control while registering their protest, and maintain peace in the state," he said in a video message. He said that the Central government has given an assurance on the floor of the House to protect the interests of Assam.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi Modi urged calm and said the people of Assam had nothing to fear. "I want to assure them - no-one can take away your rights, unique identity and beautiful culture. It will continue to flourish and grow," he tweeted.