AASU warns govt against Citizenship Bill

The AASU chief adviser said that if the JPC submits a report without taking into account the feelings of the people, it would be an incomplete report.

Guwahati: With reports of the Central government preparing to table the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in Parliament, powerful student’s organisations and civil society groups have warned that the Central and state government would be responsible if the situation in Assam deteriorates.

Asking Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal to clarify whether he is in favour of the indigenous people of

the state of illegal Bangladeshi nationals, All Assam Students Union (AASU) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that Mr Sonowal was declared the ‘national hero’ by the people of Assam for his fight fought against the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act but his silence on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which would “harm the interests of the indigenous people of the state”, is “surprising”.

He also pointed out that despite running a government with the support of the BJP, the Meghalaya chief minister dared to adopt a Cabinet decision opposing the bill, but unfortunately, the Assam chief minister failed to speak against the bill.

Mr Bhattacharya, who is also the adviser of the North East Students Organisation (NESO), alleged that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) formed to examine the bill failed to function in an impartial manner. “The JPC only visited Guwahati and Silchar in Assam and Shillong in Meghalaya. The JPC members should have visited other parts of Assam to know the feelings of the people. The JPC should have also visited all the states of the region. But the committee failed to do so and there is no way an impartial decision can be taken without knowing the feelings of the people,” he added.

The AASU chief adviser said that if the JPC submits a report without taking into account the feelings of the people, it would be an incomplete report. Asserting that if central government would try to impose the bill against the wish of the people, he said that government would bed responsible forf the con sequences.

Mr Bhattacharya alleged that the Central and state governments seem to have hatched a conspiracy to derail the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) only to protect the vote bank of Bangladeshi nationals. The citizenship bill would not only derail the NRC update process, but would also violate the Assam Accord, he said.

He said that the proposed amendment in the citizenship bill was also against the spirit of the Constitution of India.

Referring that BJP in its vision document released before the 2016 state Assembly elections had promised to implement the Assam Accord, the AASU adviser regretted that immediately after coming to power, the party broke its promise by bringing in the citizenship amendment bill. He also said that in the election campaigns, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to detect and deport all the Bangladeshi nationals staying illegally in India and he never said that foreigners would be differentiated on the basis of religion to protect the vote bank of the BJP.

The bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, to grant Indian nationality to people belonging to minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12, even if they don’t possess any proper document.

However, sources said that the controversial Citizenship Amendment Bill may not be able to get through during the Winter session of Parliament which comes to an end on January 8.

A meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), which is examining the bill, will be held on Monday to finalise the proposed legislation before being submitted to the Lok Sabha on January 6 or 7.

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