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Protests against Citizenship Bill in Mizoram, Tripura



Tripura's tribal parties protest

Aizawl/Agartala, Feb 12 (IANS) Massive demonstrations and protest rallies were held in Mizoram and Tripura on Tuesday to protest against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

In Mizo National Front (MNF)-ruled Mizoram, the powerful Mizoram NGO Coordination Committee (MNCC) held spirited demonstrations in Aizawl and seven other district headquarters to protest against the controversial Bill.

Protest rallies were also held in Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Tripura over the same issue.

According to the police officials of the two mountainous states, no untoward incidents were reported from any of these two northeastern states.

Displaying placards and shouting slogans, the protesters demonstrated in support of their demands till late Tuesday afternoon in all the eight district headquarters of Mizoram, including the capital city Aizawl.

Led by influential Young Mizo Association, the MNCC, a conglomerate of major civil societies, student and youth bodies, continued their agitation in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8.

MNCC Chairman Vanlalruata said that despite the protest from almost all political parties and NGOs in the entire northeastern region and other parts of the country, the Union government is keen to pass the bill even in the Rajya Sabha.

He urged the people to come forward in large numbers in protest against the bill, which according to MNCC supremo is against the interests of indigenous people of the North-East.

The MNCC, which has more than four lakh members in Mizoram (the Christian-dominated state has a total population of around 11 lakh) had also boycotted the Republic Day celebration over the same issue.

Special mass prayers are held in many Churches in Mizoram since Saturday for the defeat of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the upper House of Parliament.

Ruling MNF in the state also has been demanding of the Centre to withdraw the bill.

Amid strong opposition by various political parties, including the Congress, Left and the Trinamool Congress, on January 8 the Lok Sabha passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill but it is yet to approved by the Rajya Sabha.

Protest rallies, spearheaded by newly-formed Movement Against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (MACAB), were also held in some tribal-dominated areas of Tripura on Tuesday.

The MACAB is a conglomerate of several NGOs and four tribal-based parties, including Tripura’s oldest tribal party Indigenous Nationalist Party of Tripura (INPT). The Congress is also backing the MACAB.

“Today’s (Tuesday) main protest rally is being held in Jampuijala (in Sepahijala district)…,” INPT general secretary Jagadhish Debbarma told the media.

The MACAB and other tribal-based parties, including Tripura BJP’s ally IPFT (Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura), have also been agitating against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill since January 8.

Major political parties, NGOs and civil society groups are strongly opposing the Bill. Once a law, it will have a detrimental effect on the ethnic communities, they feel.


Cloudy, foggy Saturday morning in Delhi



delhi fog
File Photo

New Delhi, Feb 16: Delhiites on Saturday witnessed a cloudy and foggy morning with the minimum temperature recorded at 13 degrees Celsius, two notch above the season’s average.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 19 degrees Celsius. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 93 per cent while visibility was at 600 metres.

The Indian Railways said as many as 13 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to fog and low visibility in several parts of northern India.

The overall air quality of the city remained in the ‘poor’ category with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching 225 as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting.

On Friday, the maximum temperature settled two notches below the average at 22 degrees Celsius and the minimum temperature was recorded at 11.8 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.


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Modi flags off Vande Bharat Express



Train 18

New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the indigenous Train 18, renamed Vande Bharat Express, from the New Delhi railway station to his Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi in the backdrop of the terror attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir which killed 45 troopers.

A sombre Modi told a gathering at the station that he was “grateful to designers and engineers behind Vande Bharat Express” which set off at 11.20 a.m.

The train will clock 160 km per hour — the fastest on the Indian rail network.

The Prime Minister said with “our sincerity and hard work in the last four and half years, we have tried to improve the railways”.

Earlier, Modi inspected the coaches and the engine cabin of the Vande Bharat Express along with senior railway officials.

The flagging off was delayed by over 80 minutes as Modi presided over a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security to discuss the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir.

Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi and members of the Railway Board were on board the train on its inaugural journey.

Bookings on the Vande Bharat Express opened on Friday. All the seats of were booked within four hours.

The train, which will start replacing Shatabdi Express trains, will run between Delhi and Varanasi.

The train has been manufactured by the Integral Coach Factory in Chennai.

The gleaming blue-nosed train comes fitted with world class amenities on board like high-speed on-board WiFi, GPS-based passenger information system, touch-free bio-vacuum toilets, LED lighting, mobile charging points and a climate control system that automatically adjusts the temperature.

The 16-coach train will have two executive compartments with 52 seats each and trailer coaches with 78 seats each.

The executive class will have rotating seats to match the direction of the train.

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Manjhi dares Modi to bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists



Jitan Ram Manjhi

Patna, Feb 15 (IANS) Former Bihar Chief Minister and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) chief Jitan Ram Manjhi on Friday dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists to silent the boiling anger of Indians.

“Until the government led by Modi bring 420 chopped heads of terrorists, the boiling anger of people will not be silent,” he told the media here, reacting to Thursday’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir which left 45 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead and 38 injured.

Demanding why the government did not take any action, Manjhi said: “A country is not run merely by ‘jumlebazi’, the government has to do something concrete on the ground.”

He further said that the Modi government has so far failed to curb terror activities and this was reflected in what happened in Pulwama.

Manjhi said he shared the pain and grief of the families of those martyred.

Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav said that before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party had claimed to bring 10 chopped heads in revenge of one Indian killed but after winning, Modi went to Pakistan to eat biryani.

Yadav said he and his party – the Rashtriya Janata Dal – are with the families of the martyred CRPF personnel.

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