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Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Friday said “illegal immigrants are mostly based in Mumbai, Delhi and metro cities” and “far away from” the North East. “The problem lies there,” he said in his defense of the Citizenship Amendment Bill which has become a contentious issue across the North East.

Deb also issued a terse warning and said no one should do “nasty politics” for political mileage clearly alluding to some anti-India slogans raised by a group of Citizenship Bill protesters at Khumulwng in West Tripura. A video clip of the protesters, chanting slogans similar to those heard in Mizoram last week, had gone viral across the state. The protest was called by Tripura United Indigenous People’s Council (TUIPC), a joint body of 48 returnee insurgent organisations in the state. Different tribal political parties like Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), National Conference of Tripura (NCT), IPFT Tipraha – a breakaway faction of Tripura’s ruling tribal ally IPFT — joined the agitation.

Biplab argued that Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed in the Lok Sabha for all states of India and not NE India alone. He questioned why people from Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh or Jammu & Kashmir were silent on the legislation. “Some people in Northeast India are doing these (protests) for their own political benefits,” he claimed.

The CM spoke on the issue of illegal migration from neighbouring Bangladesh and said Rajasthan shares border with Pakistan in the same way Tripura shares international border. “Rajasthan is ruled by Congress party. Why is nothing happening there?” he asked.

In an oblique reference to Pradyot Kishore, who is also working president of Tripura Congress, Biplab Deb said people from NE India felt estranged from the country during the long Congress rule in the region.

Speaking to media, Tripura royal scion and Congress working president Pradyot Kishore Debbarma condemned the slogans and said people raising those slogans were planted into the rally by elements who once sought a separate state.

“Nobody should criticise India. We are an integral part of this country. China is not the solution. If these protests were held in China, they would have shot us by now. People should realise that India is not the problem. BJP which is trying to divide society is the problem,” he said.

“If Biplab Deb wants to ask who is anti India, he better look at his cabinet colleagues,” Pradyot said in reference to IPFT, BJP’s ruling ally in Tripura.