Citizenship Bill Triggers Sharp Divisions on Linguistic Lines in Assam

Assam Akhil Gogoi warns of fresh movement in state

Assam Akhil Gogoi warns of fresh movement in state

Staff Reporter GUWAHATI, May 7 - Making a case to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today said the proposed law has the potential to make the indigenous people minorities in Assam and frustrate the very goal of the Assam Accord.“It violates the main clause of the Assam Accord.

The Narendra Modi government's decision to bring a modification to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1955, to help grant Indian citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis, among others, has triggered a sharp division of opinion on linguistic lines in Assam's Brahmaputra and Barak Valley.

Mahanta maintained that if religious minorities are given citizenship, Assam would have to bear the largest burden with 2-3 lakh Bangladeshi Bengalis likely to settle in each Assembly constituency of the State.

Several senior journalists, actors and singers were seen queuing with the public to submit their representations against the Bill. Even AGP, an ally of BJP, feels the passage of the bill would put the identity of Assamese people at stake.

Speaking to media persons after the Cabinet meeting here on Tuesday, Deputy Chief Minister and Government spokesperson, Prestone Tynsong said, "We have seen the draft bill introduced by the Parliament and after thorough discussion, we have chose to say "No" to the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016". She said, around 300 individuals and organisations will meet the Committee in Silchar tomorrow and the day after.

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Assam Accord was signed in 1985 with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi led central government after a bloody agitation to flush out the illegal foreigners. The bill, if passed, will pose a grave threat to Assamese people. "It will threaten the very existence of Assam and the people of the State", Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said. "We, as a regional party, will not allow this to happen", said AGP president and agriculture minister Atul Bora after submitting party's memorandum to the JPC.

He also pointed that the work of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in the state would be affected adversely. Such fears among the indigenous people in Assam will become reality if we all do not stand strongly against the Bill. By coming here, we are not opposing Chief Minister Sonowal, but adding to his strength in the interests of the people. "This bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution", he said and questioned the basis on which the Centre sought to amend the Citizenship Bill.

"The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is a direct assault on the historic Assam Accord".

The proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 has been vehemently opposed by the NGOs in Meghalaya as well as in Assam.

While public hearing on the Bill was conducted on single day in Guwahati, two days have been scheduled for hearing on the Bill in Silchar.

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