13 Dec 2019
Amid Citizenship Bill protests, Japan's PM postpones India visit
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has deferred his three-day visit to India, Ministry of External Affairs confirmed on Friday.
Abe was supposed to meet his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Guwahati but was forced to rethink his visit after unprecedented violence took over Assam.
The Northeast state has been staunchly protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was passed in Parliament this week.
Backstory: Why is Assam protesting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill?
There is a palpable fear among Assamese that this Bill, which became Act with President Ram Nath Kovind's assent on Thursday, will open floodgates for illegal Bangladeshi immigrants.
They are concerned they might eventually become a minority.
But, why is the situation more grim in Assam?
The entire Northeast, which houses several tribal groups, is against CAB, but the impact is more pronounced in Assam.
Since states like Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, and Nagaland, come under Inner Line Permit (ILP), they have been exempted from CAB.
The ILP is essentially a document which visitors, even if they are Indians, have to get before entering some regions. They can't overstay their visit.
Separately, special schedule of Constitution protects some areas
Notably, ILP is not the only criterion that "saves" Northeast. Some areas of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Mizoram, have been protected by the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
This provision allows Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) to govern these regions.
Only a few areas of Assam have been exempted from CAB, which explains why residents are worried they will have to face the brunt of illegal immigrants.
In Assam, two people died due to violence
The violent protests in Assam took the lives of two people yesterday and injured 21 others. To put a check on violence, internet services have been snapped, and curfew imposed in the state.
But the restrictions didn't stop the protesters, who vandalized vehicles, clashed with security officials and even tore down Abe and PM Modi's posters in the state capital.
A mutually convenient date will be chosen: Kumar
Notably, Abe's visit was supposed to start on Sunday, December 15, and end on Tuesday, December 17. But Japan's Jiji Press reported he may ditch his plans.
About this new development, Kumar tweeted, "With reference to the proposed visit of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe to India, both sides have decided to defer the visit to a mutually convenient date in the near future."
Earlier, Bangladesh's foreign minister also canceled his visit
To recall, Bangladesh's foreign minister AK Abdul Momen also canceled his three-day visit to India. He was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on Thursday.
Momen had taken a strong offense at CAB and said minorities live harmoniously in his country.
Later, in an attempt to play down this development, he said he canceled the trip as he has some commitments back home.