Union Home Minister and BJP president Amit Shah on Saturday visited Aizawl, Mizoram, to gain support for the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Northeast.
The Bill seeks to accord Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh who immigrated to India before 2014.
Ahead of Shah's visit, protests were witnessed in several capitals of the Northeastern states against the proposed legislation.
Shah to speak to NGO Coordination Committee
According to reports, the Home Minister met Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and will subsequently speak to leaders of the NGO Coordination Committee on the Citizenship Amendment Bill during his one-day visit.
The NGO Coordination Committee is a conglomerate of civil society organizations and student bodies of Mizoram.
This is Shah's first Mizoram visit since taking office as Home Minister.
Committee initially planned to protest during Shah's visit
Meanwhile, a leader of the NGO Coordination Committee told PTI, "We will submit a memorandum and discuss with [Shah] our displeasure over the Centre's proposal to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955," adding that they previously planned a protest during Shah's visit.
Why was the plan to protest changed?
Reportedly, the Committee called-off protests upon the insistence of CM Zoramthanga, who's also the President of the ruling Mizo National Front and a constituent of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA).
State BJP President John V Hluna had also urged the Committee to not hold protests.
Last month, Shah had invited all stakeholders to address concerns about the Bill.
But, why is the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill so controversial?
Now, let's talk about the Bill.
It seeks to facilitate the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians, and Parsis who immigrated from Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh to India before December 31, 2014.
This proposed legislation had sparked an uproar across the Northeast which feared the erasure of its cultural identity.
Last month, Zoramthanga requested Shah to account for the "vulnerability of the region."
Centre to reintroduce Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament in November
The meeting with the NGO Coordination Committee comes as the Centre plans to reintroduce the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Parliament in November this year. The Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8, but couldn't be passed in Rajya Sabha.
Shah inaugurated handloom/handicrafts event in Aizawl earlier today
Earlier in the day, Shah also inaugurated the North East Handloom and Handicraft Exhibition, organized by the North East Council, in Aizawl.
At the event, Shah said that the Centre has doubled developmental projects in Mizoram as compared to the UPA government.
He also underlined the potential of bamboo cultivation, saying residents could become self-sufficient with the manufacture and sale of bamboo handicrafts.