Regular-article-logo Tuesday, 06 June 2023

Groups slam Sonowal’s Act assurance

What’s there to discuss, asks AASU

Pranjal Baruah Guwahati Published 20.12.19, 09:01 PM
Lawyers take out a rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Guwahati on Friday.

Lawyers take out a rally against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

The All Assam Students Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, which have been spearheading protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act in the state, on Friday accused chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal of “lying” after he said only a “negligible” number of people would be covered by the law.

AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya said, “This is the same government which had said that 50 lakh Bangladeshis are living in Assam and now the chief minister says the number of such people is negligible. If the numbers are so low, then why bring the CAA against the interests of millions of genuine citizens?”


Sonowal said the act will not encourage fresh influx from Bangladesh, but those who fled the neighbouring country and moved here decades ago owing to religious persecution would be able to apply for Indian citizenship.

Reminding Sonowal of BJP’s commitment in its vision document for the 2016 Assembly polls, AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, “The chief minister pointed out that the amended citizenship act was a national commitment and there was no political motive behind its implementation. AASU wants to remind him that he has also given commitment to implement the Assam Accord in its letter and spirit before coming to power. Does he remember? Will he keep that commitment?”

On Sonowal’s claim that the anti-CAA brigade was misleading the people, Gogoi said, “The chief minister himself is misleading and lying to the people. If Sonowal thinks only his party members have understood the law, and all the citizens as well as Indians living outside the country are fools, then AASU feels sorry for him. We suggest that Sonowal reach out to experts to understand CAA than preaching to the people.”

Responding to Sonowal’s call for dialogue, he said, “What’s there to discuss in private? We want CAA to be scrapped. The government only needs to answer yes or no. We also met Shah and within hours, the Union cabinet passed the bill. It proved the government doesn’t care about our views. Then why have more discussions?”

AJYCP general secretary Palash Changmai said, “The chief minister said the number of people who would get citizenship was insignificant, while finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said it will be around five lakh, citing the National Register of Citizens (NRC) data. If the government has rejected the NRC, then how can they cite numbers from an erroneous list?”

The Assam government had requested the Centre to reject the updated NRC saying “it was full of errors”.

“Assam will not take the burden of a single illegal infiltrator,” Changmai asserted.

The AJYCP also said it would only agree to a discussion if it was about scrapping the act.

Former chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, “It’s the same Sarbananda Sonowal who challenged the IMDT Act in the Supreme Court and said Assam had lakhs of Bangladeshi infiltrators. Now, he is making a U-turn.”

He demanded a judicial probe into the deaths of the five persons during protests in the state and a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each to their families. “I pity Sonowal. Once he was bestowed the title of jatiya nayak and people trusted him but today he is seeking people’s trust. Trust needs to be earned,” he said, adding that no rally by the BJP can bring peace unless the act is scrapped. Gogoi also visited the residence of Sam Stefford, who had died in alleged police firing on protesters here on December 12.

Meanwhile, protests against the act continued to rock the state. Hundreds of lawyers, under the banner of All Assam Lawyers’ Association, marched to the Raj Bhavan and submitted a memorandum to the President through the governor, urging him to keep Assam out of the act’s purview. Members of Jorhat Bar Association also staged a protest in front of the deputy commissioner’s office.

Additional reporting by Devajit Baruah in Jorhat

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