KMSS on indefinite fast over citizen bill
Peasant rights group Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) launched an indefinite hunger strike on Tuesday and the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 30 other organisations called an urgent meeting on Saturday to discuss the nod given by the joint parliamentary committee on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, to the proposed legislation.
The Congress and the AIUDF also criticised the Rajendra Agrawal-led JPC for rejecting all amendments forwarded by Opposition members in voice vote in its meeting in New Delhi on Monday.
At least three political parties are expected to submit dissent notes to the JPC.
When it meets again on Thursday to draft and adopt the report, the Trinamul, the CPM and the Samajwadi Party are likely to put up dissent notes for inclusion when the report is tabled in Parliament.
The Trinamul Congress is said to be specifically concerned about the fate of 28 lakh, among them Bengali Hindus whose citizenship is under threat because their names do not figure in the draft National Register of Citizens being updated in Assam.
The Left had suggested that instead of making it country or religion-specific, the law can be amended to provide for an enabling provision that would facilitate citizenship for those who may have entered India due to persecution.
The AASU “strongly warned” the Centre that it will not accept any move that could violate the Assam Accord which had set midnight of March 24, 1971, as the date for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants.
The AASU said it would not accept and continue to oppose the bill which is “detrimental” for the state. “AASU will never accept imposition of the bill on the people of Assam,” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said.
He said the JPC did not hold hearing on the bill in all the states of the Northeast. “Besides, the way the committee did not accept the amendments of the Opposition members on Monday proves that the JPC, since its constitution, was prepared to give its nod in favour of the bill,” he said.
Four members of KMSS launched the indefinite hunger strike at Chachal here. They told reporters that they would continue the strike till the bill is scrapped. Six KMSS members in Dibrugarh district, six in Nagaon, eight in Jorhat, three in Barpeta and seven in Dhubri also launched a hunger strike on Tuesday.
KMSS leaders held Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal responsible for the development. They said if Sonowal had taken a strong stand against the bill, the Centre would not have decided to table it in Parliament.
The Assam Congress Legislature Party also condemned the JPC for rejecting all the amendment proposals. CLP leader Debabrata Saikia reiterated support to the deadline set by the Assam Accord for detection and deportation of illegal immigrants.
The AIUDF described the JPC’s Monday meeting as an “extreme betrayal” of Assam by the ruling parties. “We have been fighting against the bill from the beginning and will continue to do so,” AIUDF chief Badruddin Ajmal said. He reiterated his request to the AGP to sever its alliance with the BJP.
Additional reporting by Anita Joshua in New Delhi