Assam lobby against citizenship bill garners national support
A conglomerate of 70 organisations in Assam, spearheading the movement against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, have garnered support from the Janata Dal United (JDU) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and met Congress leaders on Friday evening over blocking the bill in the Rajya Sabha.
“Some national parties have promised to be with us in opposing the bill in the Rajya Sabha. We want the Congress to clarify its stand too,” Akhil Gogoi, adviser to Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), one of the 70 organisations, told reporters here.
“We have already met (Congress leader) Jairam Ramesh. This evening we met AICC general secretary in-charge of Assam Harish Rawat and others. We are scheduled to meet AICC president Rahul Gandhi by January 31. This is a historic opportunity for the Congress to win back the trust of the people. If it stands with the people, we will welcome it. If it doesn’t, it will face the same treatment as the BJP,” Akhil added.
The CPM and the Aam Aadmi Party have also opposed the bill.
Akhil said some senior JDU leaders would visit Assam on January 28 and 29, the days the KMSS plans to stage statewide protests. The budget session of the Assembly is scheduled for these two days.
“We want only three issues to be discussed during this session — citizenship (amendment) bill, ST status to the six communities and constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people,” Akhil said.
The 70 organisations have, however, withdrawn their call for a road blockade on Sunday. “We heard some exams are scheduled on that day, so we withdrew our agitation programme across the state. It will now be held only at Panitola in Tinsukia,” he said.
Two days later, on January 29, the KMSS will launch a massive protest, along with the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP), at Kakopathar in Upper Assam’s Tinsukia district. All the local organisations are supporting the jon jagaran anushthan (mass awareness programme ) and bikhob pratibadi dal (rally opposing the bill) to be launched that day. “This is a time of great crisis for Assam. We will leave no stone unturned to put pressure on the government to withdraw the bill. We will meet each and every person here and make them understand in the easiest language the bill’s effect on us and the generations to come,” said AJYCP district president Surojit Moran.
KMSS district president Manab Chetia said, “We are circulating the ill-effects of the bill on the social media. We will meet mukhias (heads), teachers and farmers in villages and college students to spread awareness on the bill.”
The protest will start at No. 1 Haru Dirak playground and conclude at Bordirak playground.
The All Assam Matak Sanmilan, supported by other Matak organisations, has called a statewide economic blockade from January 27 till February 11 to demand scrapping of the bill and Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for six ethnic communities. The blockade is likely to affect Upper Assam districts, which have a large population of Mataks.
The bill, which endorses Indian citizenship for Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who fled Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan because of religious persecution and entered India without valid documents till December 31, 2014, was passed in the Lok Sabha on January 8.
Additional reporting by Manoj Kumar Ojha in Doomdooma and Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh