Delhi rally warns Centre on citizen bill

The protest came two days after representatives of the North East Students’ Union organised a similar protest in New Delhi

By A Staff Reporter in Guwahati
  • Published 22.12.18, 1:00 AM
  • Updated 22.12.18, 1:00 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Members of AASU and other organisations hold a demonstration in New Delhi on Friday. Picture by UB Photos

The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 30 organisations representing various indigenous communities on Friday warned the Centre not to impose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, on the people of Assam.

The organisations held a demonstration in New Delhi as part of its series of protests against the bill, Foreigners’ (Amendment) Order, 2015, the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, and long-term visas to people from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The protest came two days after representatives of the North East Students’ Union (Neso) organised a similar protest in New Delhi. The AASU is a constituent of Neso.

There have been reports that the bill will not be placed in the ongoing session of Parliament as the joint parliamentary committee on the bill is yet to file its report.

“We are not convinced because the two notifications are still in force. What will happen to them?” asked AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya.

“We demand that the Centre scrap the citizenship bill along with the Foreigners’ (Amendment) Order, 2015, the Passport (Entry into India) Amendment Rules, 2015, long-term visas for the people of Bangladesh and any move to introduce work permits to Bangladeshi nationals,” he said.

The protesters said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had used the Jai Aai Asom slogan before the 2014 Lok Sabha and 2016 Assembly election with the promise of protecting the land and people of the state. “But after coming to power, they forgot about the slogan and are acting like protectors of Bangladeshis who have entered Assam illegally,” said Bhattacharjya.

The bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and came to India before December 31, 2014. The organisations said the bill is a violation of the 1985 Assam Accord, which was signed after the six-year anti-foreigner Assam Movement.

Seventy organisations from Assam had earlier launched an indefinite hunger strike to protest against the bill. But they withdrew it following an assurance from the JPC chairman Rajendra Agrawal and other members of the committee that there was almost no possibility of placing the bill in Parliament.

“Agrawal told us there was almost no possibility of placing the bill on the ongoing Parliament session. There were still several JPC sittings remaining on the bill,” Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi said. He said if the bill is placed in Parliament, they would continue their protest in New Delhi.

Bhattacharjya said they would “spare no ruling party” if the bill is passed. The bill has already become a bone of contention between the BJP and the Asom Gana Parishad, part of the ruling alliance in Assam. The AGP even sent a letter to BJP president Amit Shah threatening to snap ties with the BJP if the bill is passed in Parliament.

The organisations also requested all parliamentarians from the Northeast to raise their voices against the bill, two notifications and the long-term visa plan to put pressure on the Centre to withdraw them.