Markets were closed and effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and others were burnt and roads were blocked as protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) continued across Manipur on Saturday. Vendors of the Khwairamband Market here, considered the largest women’s market in the world, was also closed as they rendered their support to the on-going protest demanding withdrawal of the CAB. The women vendors also resolved to close the market till February 11, their leaders told reporters.
“It is time for both the ruling and opposition parties to unite leaving behind their differences and fight for withdrawal of the CAB,” they said. The CAB seeks to provide Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India even if they do not possess any document. The Bill was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 and has been awaiting the Rajya Sabha nod. Indigenous people of the region are afraid that identity would be lost if the Bill was enacted.
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Effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Chief Minister N Biren Singh were burnt by protesters at Tera locality in Imphal West district and Yairipok in Thoubal district. Security forces also foiled an attempt to block one lane of National Highway-102 at Singjamei in Imphal town. Elsewhere, despite large scale deployment of security forces, protesters at different pockets in Imphal East district blocked roads affecting vehicular traffic, officials said.
Convenor of Manipur People Against Citizenship Amendment Bill (MANPAC), Phundreimayum Abdullah, demanded that an exercise similar to the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) be conducted in the state to identify and deport illegal immigrants. Meanwhile, Democratic Students Alliance of Manipur leader M Angamba called for boycotting the upcoming Lok Sabha elections alleging that legislators remained silent at this critical juncture.