Assam: Groups vow to oppose Citizenship Bill, 2016


GUWAHATI, May 23, 2018: All Assam Students' Union (AASU) along with 28 organisations representing Assam's indigenous communities on Tuesday vowed to carry on a united protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

AGP leaders and Assam ministers Atul Bora and Keshab Mahanta also met Union home minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi on Tuesday and submitted a memorandum opposing the bill.

AASU and the 28 organisations held a meeting here and decided to stage an 11-hour hunger strike from 6am on May 29. The organisations have been opposing the Centre's move to grant citizenship based on religion, saying it will violate the secular spirit of the Constitution.

AASU president Dipanka Nath said they would also organise a mass rally here in the first week of June. The date and place will be decided in a joint meeting to be held here on June 2.

AASU is also working with the North East Students' Organisation (Neso), a conglomerate of student organisations of the Northeast, to oppose the bill. On Monday, Neso had organised protests across the region. AASU is also in touch with political parties across the country to convince them to oppose the bill in Parliament. Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar recently promised to oppose the bill. The organisations slammed the BJP-led Assam government for its "silence" on the bill. "If Meghalaya government can oppose the bill, why not Assam?" asked Aditya Khakhlari, general secretary of the All Assam Tribal Sangha.

The bill seeks to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, who entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

"If the bill is passed, Assam's demography will change. There will be a serious threat to Assamese language, culture and history and Assamese people will be reduced to a minority in their own state," the memorandum said.

Bora had opposed the bill at the third meeting of the North East Democratic Alliance (Neda), attended by BJP national president Amit Shah, here on Sunday.

The AGP memorandum said Assam has already accepted the burden of illegal migrants who had come to the state up to March 24, 1971, as agreed in the Assam Accord, and cannot bear further burden. It said no step has been taken till date for implementation of Clause 6 of the Accord, which says constitutional safeguards will be provided to indigenous people of the state.

The memorandum said, "The first and foremost condition of our alliance with the BJP was implementation of all the provisions of the Assam Accord,".It also added that the AGP expected active cooperation from Rajnath Singh as the head of the nodal ministry for implementing the Accord, which is the home ministry.

Source: The Telegraph

Featured image: The Telegraph