SHILLONG: The North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) marked December 11 as a “Black Day”, symbolising their protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed by the Rajya Sabha in 2019.
The NESO, representing eight major student bodies in the region including All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and Khasi Students Union (KSU), among others, undertook various activities across states in the region.
In Shillong, Meghalaya, members of the organisation hung banners with slogans – “Detect, delete, deport all illegal immigrants coming after 1971…” – at popular spots across the city.
Meanwhile, in Assam, the AASU staged protests and hoisted black flags at the Swahid Nyas Bhawan in Guwahati, marking the day when the contentious bill was passed despite widespread protests from indigenous communities.
NESO believes that the Citizenship Act is unfair to the indigenous people of the region and considers it is a threat to their rights.
“We have marked a ‘Black Day’ across the Northeast, sending a clear message to the Centre that we strongly oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Act passed in Parliament on December 11, 2019, despite the widespread protests,” a national news agency quoted NESO Chairman Samuel B Jyrwa as saying, on Monday.
Last week, Jyrwa and Secretary General Mutsikhoyo Yhobu urged the indigenous population to support the Black Day and continue their fight against what they consider an “unjust law”.
Upendra Debbarma, advisor to NESO constituent Twipra Student Federation (TSF), also highlighted the significance of the observance, stating that it aims to send a clear message to the Centre reminding it of the political injustice perpetrated on the indigenous peoples of the Northeast.
Earlier, the contentious Act encountered strong resistance due to concerns about its potential effects on the region’s demographics and cultural identity.
The anti-CAA protests, which initially began in the Northeast in 2019, continued until 2020 before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Notably, these protests in Assam had at least five casualties, accompanied by large-scale violence and the imposition of curfews for several days.