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Forum files petition in SC against bill

Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill says AGP must part ways with BJP to protest the passing of the Citizenship Bill
Hiren Gohain and Hare Krishna Deka at the news conference in Guwahati on Sunday.
Hiren Gohain and Hare Krishna Deka at the news conference in Guwahati on Sunday.
Picture by UB Photos

Ali Fauz Hassan   |   Guwahati   |   Published 30.12.18, 06:37 PM

The Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill announced on Sunday that it has filed a petition in the Supreme Court, challenging the laws regularising the entry and stay of persecuted communities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan in India.

Author and litterateur Hiren Gohain, former director-general of police Hare Krishna Deka and former journalist Manjit Mahanta filed a plea in the Supreme Court on December 21, on behalf of the forum, challenging the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, the Foreigners (Amendment) Order, 2015, and SO 4132 issued by the ministry for external affairs on December 23, 2016.

The passport rules of 2015 exempt people belonging to the minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan — namely Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who were compelled to seek shelter in India because of religious persecution or fear of such a persecution — from the requirement of a passport to enter India.

The rules state these people should have entered India on or before December 31, 2014.

The Foreigners (Amendment) order grants exemption for the same set of people exempted by the passport rules from the provisions of the Foreigners Act, 1946.

They said the standing order authorises certain officials to register people of the six named communities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, now residing in the states of Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the Union Territory of Delhi, as a citizen of India or grant certificate of naturalisation.

Gohain said, “From the time the bill was tabled, we have been protesting against it, keeping the interests of the people in mind and the threat it poses to the Constitution. This bill is against secularism. We could not sit idle any longer and have filed a petition challenging the amendments to the Passport and Foreigners rules. These amendments will enable the BJP to fulfil their agenda of granting citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis even if the bill is not passed.”

“The AGP has been saying it will part ways from the BJP if the bill is passed. The BJP has majority in the Parliament and the bill will be passed even if there are objections. The AGP was born as a regional party to fulfil the aspirations of the people of Assam. If they have any self-respect or care about the people, they should immediately part ways with the BJP. We appeal to the people to form local bodies to carry on the protests against the bill. Our protests will be vociferous but peaceful and we will not speak against any community,” Gohain said.

Mahanta said, “An illegal Bangladeshi Hindu migrant was caught in Silchar and a case was filed against him. He said he had entered India freely. The authorities consulted their superiors and the case was dropped, paving way for him to get the citizenship of the country. This proves there is a hidden agenda of the government.”

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