Published: Wed, January 09, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha

Guwahati: The 11-hour Northeast bandh called by the North East Student's Organisation (NESO), All Assam Students Union (AASU) and 30 other indigenous organisations on Tuesday to protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has affected normal life in Assam and other parts of the Northeastern region.

The Bill endorses citizenship for all religious minorities from neighbouring Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The AGP's move to snap ties with the BJP, just a few months before general elections, will have little impact on chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal's government, but it adds to the perception about the saffron party's inability to keep its allies.

The party made a decision to snap ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Citizenship Bill, which they say will make the Assam Accord "meaningless".

He said for AGP, "peoples' interest and not power was important and we tried our best till the last to ensure that the bill was not passed but when Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh asserted that it will passed, we could not remain in the government and had to withdraw".

Suhas Chakma, director of the New Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said the citizenship bill was "absolutely unconstitutional as it targets specific groups".

"Further, the Assam Accord is also meant to be made meaningless", the letter alleged.

Samujjal Bhattacharyya from NESO said people in the region would not "accept the political injustice perpetrated by the BJP".

That could hurt the BJP's goal of sharply increasing its parliamentary seats from the northeast region of the country in the national election.

The BJP has 61 members while 12 MLAs of the Bodoland People's Front and a sole Independent member are backing the party.

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The Parishad members will meet on Wednesday and decide on the specific course of action if the Bill is passed.

"The NDA government must give a list of such people before pressing for the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament", Mahanta said.

A large number of people in Assam and other northeastern states have been protesting against the bill, saying it would nullify the 1985 Assam Accord under which any foreign national, irrespective of religion, who had entered the state after 1971 should be deported.

The Congress, TMC, CPI (M) and a few other parties were steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship can not be given on basis of religion, as India is secular.

"We did not organise any movement on Tuesday as part of the opposition to the Citizenship Bill", said Debbarma, also the IPFT's chief spokesman.

MP Sanjay Raut said, "We're also opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill".

"We have raised the issue in the last meeting of NEDA (North East Democratic Alliance) in Guwahati recently". The bill, if passed by both houses of the parliament, will grant citizenship to six identified minority communities namely, Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 31 December 2014.

The AGP leaders hoped that Amit Shah's "good office" would certainly take necessary steps so that the bill is not placed in Parliament at any point of time.

The proposal has been hotly contested in Assam, a hilly state that has witnessed violence between settlers and indigenous groups, who say they have lost land and jobs to the newer entrants.

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