BJP starts campaign to mobilise support for Citizen Bill.
Guwahati: Bogged down by ongoing protest, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Sunday launched an aggressive campaign in defence of Citizenship Amendment Bill and said that the proposed amendment would not “open the floodgates to migrants”, as had been said, but would, on the contrary, be a “check gate”.
Addressing the Tiwa tribal festival in central Assam’s Morigaon district, Mr Sonowal said, “Some sections are spreading propaganda on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, saying that if the Bill becomes an Act, Assam will turn into a breeding ground for illegal migrants. Let me make it clear — the proposed Bill was brought to Parliament for the entire nation. Simply passing the Bill will not warrant citizenship rights for the people.”
Mr Sonowal asserted that the Bill only provides for applying for Indian citizenship after fulfilling three conditions, including establishment of religious persecution their country of origin, either Bangladesh or Afghanistan or Pakistan.
Pointing out that a person seeking citizenship has to apply to the district magistrate and not to the Centre, he said, “First, the person seeking citizenship has to be from either of the six religious groups — Hindu, Christianity, Jain, Parsi, Buddhist and Sikh — and originating from either Bangladesh, Pakistan or Afghanistan. The cutoff date given in the bill is December 31, 2014, which means that any person wanting to apply for citizenship has to prove they have been living in India for at least seven years till December 31, 2014.”
Rejecting the propaganda that nearly 1.5 crore non-Muslims would migrate to Assam because of the Citizenship Bill, he said, “The person also has to prove that he is a victim of religious persecution in his country of origin and if he fulfils all these conditions, only then can one apply.”
The Assam CM reiterated his commitment to “protect the interests of the indigenous communities of the state”.
He said, “The previous governments in the state as well as in the Centre only paid lip service to serve the interests of the people of Assam. The present central government took keen interest for the protection of the rights and privileges of the people of Assam and therefore, the high-powered has been constituted to implement Clause 6.”
Meanwhile, several associations of advocates, doctors and intellectuals including some Congress leaders have started coming out in defence of citizenship amendment bill in Barrak Valley.
Sources in the Assam BJP said that their district units have been asked to start a mass contact programme to apprise the local party leaders and supporters about the citizenship amendment bill.
Former Congress MLA from Algapur and district president of Hailakandi Mr Rahul Roy also resigned in protest against the Congress party’s stand on the citizenship amendment bill. Even Congress MP from Silchar Sushmita Dev has gone against the stand of the party supported the citizenship bill.