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Jubilation across NE as citizenship bill set to die natural death

Jubilation across NE as citizenship bill set to die natural death

Guwahati: A wave of jubilation swept through Assam and other northeastern states, in ferment for the last few weeks, after the hugely divisive Citizenship Bill could not be tabled in the Rajya Sabha and was destined to die a natural death with the expiry of the term of the current Lok Sabha on June 3.

Celebrations erupted across Assam with opponents of the bill bursting crackers, distributing sweets and breaking into frenzied dancing on the streets.

Leaders of the AGP, AASU, KMSS, AJYCP--all antagonists of the Citizenship (amendment) Bill, 2019, claimed the Centre's failure to pass the legislation in the Rajya Sabha was a victory of democracy and of the people of Assam and the northeast over "communal" forces. "Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sarbananda Sonowal, Himanta Biswa Sarma hai, hai," they chanted, as fireworks reverberated in cities, towns and villages of Assam.

The BJP, which stood isolated on the issue, with even its alliance partners in the northeast raising a banner of revolt, however, put up a brave and belligerent face, with Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma calling the development a "defeat" for Assam, and declaring his party will contest the Lok Sabha elections with "commitment" to the bill.

Sarma, who heads the North-East Democratic Alliance, the NDA's version in the region, also declared the alliance will bring the bill once again after winning the Lok Sabha elections with a majority.

The contentious Citizenship (amendment) Bill provided for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

It was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session on January 8 and was awaiting the Rajya Sabha's approval.

Bills introduced in the Rajya Sabha and pending there do not lapse with the dissolution of the Lok Sabha. However, a legislation introduced in the Lok Sabha but awaiting clearance of the Rajya Sabha expires at the end of the term of the Lower House.

As the news of the inevitable expiry of the bill reached Manipur, curfew was lifted in state capital Imphal.

The restive state's capital city was under curfew since Tuesday, but furious protesters were on the streets overnight, clashing with police.

Curfew was lifted this afternoon following improvement in the law and order situation, District Magistrate of Imphal West Naorem Praveen Singh said. Mobile internet services will, however, continue to remain suspended for some more time.

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