Thousands of people, including Meghalaya urban affairs minister Hamletson Dohling and Meghalaya State Planning Board chairman, Lambor Malangiang, gathered in Shillong on Wednesday to participate in a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill  even as various civil society groups threatened a “severe agitation” if the bill is passed in the Rajya Sabha.

“Northeast states will burn if this bill becomes a law,” Dohling told the gathering as he appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh not to table the controversial bill in the Rajya Sabha.

The Lok Sabha has already passed the bill that seeks to remove hurdles in eligible migrants from non-Muslim minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan from getting Indian citizenship despite opposition by political parties and civil society.

“This bill is an open invitation to these religious minority groups. This bill is politics which will benefit only one political party. The Meghalaya government strongly opposes the bill. This government (led by Conrad Sangma) is with the people of the state,” Dohling said.

Urging the indigenous people of Meghalaya to stand united against the bill, the North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), the apex students’ body of all the indigenous communities in the north-eastern region, said the bill will jeopardize the identity of the local communities.

“The bill will be detrimental to the people Northeast states, especially Meghalaya. The intention of the Central government is to reduce the indigenous people of the Northeast to a minority in their own land,” said NESO leader Samuel Jyrwa.

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