The Telegraph
Thursday , September 29 , 2016

Centre warned against bill

Guwahati, Sept. 28: The All Assam Students' Union and 27 other ethnic organisations today warned the Narendra Modi government at the Centre to desist from executing its plan to burden Assam with Hindu migrants from Bangla-desh.

After holding a marathon meeting here today on the likely ramifications in Assam once Parliament passes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the 28 organisations alleged that the Modi government had hatched a conspiracy to destroy the identity of indigenous people by introducing the bill.

They warned that under no circumstance would they accept the bill and asked the Sarbananda Sonowal government to compel the Centre to exempt Assam from the ambit of the proposed amended legislation.

The daylong meeting resolved that representatives of the 28 organisations would meet the joint parliamentary committee tomorrow to submit a joint memorandum, demanding that the bill must exclude Assam from its purview.

The committee is currently accepting suggestions and complaints from various bodies against the bill.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, once passed by Parliament, would pave the way for granting citizenship to Hindu and other non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh who have entered India after facing persecution on religious grounds.

"Assam had witnessed a six-year-long anti-foreigners movement, during which 855 youths lost their lives and students lost one valuable academic year. At the end of such a historic movement, the Centre signed the Assam Accord and fixed March 24, 1971 as the cut-off date for detection and deportation of all migrants from Bangladesh. So anyone who entered Assam from Bangladesh after 1971 must leave. It is a national commitment which was announced by former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi while hoisting the Tricolour at the Red Fort. There cannot be any dilution of the Accord and commitment," AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya told The Telegraph this evening.

The move came a day after Assam cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said the 1985 Assam Accord could not be a ground for refusing to take the burden of Hindu migrants from Bangladesh once the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed by Parliament.

Bhattacharjya, however, said, "A small state like Assam, which has already taken the burden of Bangladeshi migrants who entered the state before 1971, cannot afford to take any more burden. The BJP's vision document presented before the Assembly polls in the state had mentioned the implementation of Assam Accord in letter and spirit. Now the time has come for the BJP-government in Assam to act on its promises."

Without naming Sarma, who had yesterday said it was natural for harassed Hindus from Bangladesh to seek shelter in India, Bhattacharjya said such mindset and perception does not hold good for Assam where both Hindus and Muslims participated in the anti-foreigners movement.

"There is no question of Hindu or Muslim. Political parties, whether the BJP or the Congress, must follow the Assam Accord and anyone, whether Hindu or Muslim, who entered Assam after 1971 cannot stay in Assam," Bhattacharjya said.

The Sarbananda Sonowal-led Assam government has initiated discussions among ministers and MLAs to prepare a response to the Centre's move to grant citizenship to Hindus persecuted in Bangladesh. The AASU, Congress and the AGP, coalition partner in the government, and group of leading citizens have opposed the move.

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