Set back for BJP’s pro-Hindu ‘Citizenship Bill’, protests grip Assam

Guwahati: A total of 28 organisations on Friday staged a demonstration here, protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) called for a ‘Jan Satyagraha’ on Friday and thousands of people representing different organisations and individuals took part in the programme.

The event was intended to “send a strong message to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led governments in Delhi and Dispur against the proposed constitutional amendment Bill”. Thousands of people took out a huge protest rally from Latasil playground to Assam Engineering Institute Ground at Chandmari, shouting slogans against the Bill.

What is the Citizenship Amendment Bill

The Citizenship Amendment Bill seeks to allow illegal migrants belonging to the Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian religious communities coming from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan to not be imprisoned or deported.

It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.

The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants. It also does not talk about other minority communities in the three neighbouring countries, such as Jews, Bahais etc..

According to a report, 6,21,688 people, mostly Muslim, were either branded as doubtful voters or reference cases were registered under The Foreigners Act 1946, resulting in them losing access to government-sponsored welfare schemes, the right to vote, and other civil and political rights granted to an Indian citizen. In February 2017, Assam’s parliamentary affairs minister, Chandra Mohan Patowary, said that the cases of 4,44,189 people were referred to tribunals. Altogether 2,01,928 cases are still pending with the tribunals.

“The agitation against the Bill will continue until the government decides to scrap it. The Bill must be scrapped, the BJP-led government in Assam must ensure sealing of the India-Bangladesh border and implementation of the Assam Accord,” said AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya, addressing the rally.

Bhattacharyya said that the government must take up the issue of infiltration from Bangladesh with the neighbouring country, and both must sign a bilateral agreement to ensure there is no infiltration from Bangladesh.

AASU General Secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi also expressed his displeasure regarding the Central and the state government’s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.

“The state governments in Meghalaya, Manipur and Mizoram have unanimously decided to oppose the Bill. If those states can pass a cabinet resolution to oppose the Bill, why the Sarbananda Sonowal (Assam Chief Minister) government cannot take similar decision,” he said.

Gogoi also appealed to the alliance partners of the BJP-led government in Assam to take up the issue of the Bill strongly inside the Assam legislative assembly.

Siasat Web Team