Internet shut as stir against citizenship Bill intensifies in Manipur

The BJP-led Manipur government on Tuesday imposed restrictions under Section 144 in Imphal East and West districts besides suspending mobile internet services as protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, intensified. The Bill seeks to hasten the process of granting citizenship to six non-Muslim groups from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Leaders of People’s Alliance Manipur (PAM), an umbrella organisation of civil bodies, said the police prevented people from coming out of their homes. But many defied restrictions to carry out black flag protests while women vendors continued to squat in and around the Ima Keithel, considered Asia’s largest all-woman market, in State capital Imphal.
Eyes on NPP
The PAM had called a 36-hour Statewide shutdown in Manipur from 5 a.m. on Monday.
Mizoram too witnessed widespread protests against the Bill with hundreds spilling on to the streets of Aizawl holding placards, some of which read ‘Hello Independence’. In Meghalaya, the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) reiterated its decision to sever its ties with the BJP if the Bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha. The NPP has 20 MLAs in the ruling coalition comprising 36 legislators in the 60-member Meghalaya Assembly with an effective strength of 59 after the death of one MLA. One of the allies of NPP in Meghalaya is the BJP, which has two legislators. Both have threatened to quit the party if the Bill is passed. Severing ties with BJP might not affect the NPP-led coalition government in Meghalaya, but it is likely to threaten the existence of the BJP-led Manipur government, though N. Biren Singh has opposed the Bill. The NPP has four MLAs in Manipur where the strength of the BJP-led coalition is 31, the simple majority mark in the House of 60. In Nagaland, the NPP has two MLAs in the ruling coalition that, like Manipur, has a strength of 31 in the 60-member Assembly. Withdrawal of support by the NPP could thus spell trouble for the coalition government headed by Neiphiu Rio.

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