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Protests in Assam against 'Communal' Citizenship Amendment Bill, Ethnic Groups Take to the Streets

Protesters said the Bill would breach the clauses of the Assam Accord, which states that all illegal immigrants who came into the country from Bangladesh after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:November 21, 2019, 11:25 PM IST
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Protests in Assam against 'Communal' Citizenship Amendment Bill, Ethnic Groups Take to the Streets
Protesters said the Bill would breach the clauses of the Assam Accord, which states that all illegal immigrants who came into the country from Bangladesh after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.

Guwahati: Chanting “Aah Oi Aah, Ulai Aah” (‘come out, come out all’) and “Joi Aai Asom” slogans, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Wednesday took out torch rallies across the state against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and the Centre’s plan to re-introduce it in the ongoing winter session of the Parliament.

Along with 30 ethnic organisations demonstrating anti-CAB sentiments, hundreds of AASU protestors took to the streets in Guwahati, and Upper and Lower Assam districts challenging the government’s plan to facilitate Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Sammujjwal Bhattacharyya, chief advisor of AASU and North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), said they will not allow the Northeast to become a “dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis”.

“We are never going to accept this Bill. It is communal, against the interests of the indigenous Assamese people, violates the provisions of the Assam Accord, and proves that the government is a saviour of Bangladeshis,” said Bhattacharyya. “We will not accept the divisive policies of the government in the name of religion.”

Several ethnic groups in the Brahmaputra Valley manifesting anti-CAB sentiments have united for indigenous rights. While peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) took out an anti-Bill rally in Golaghat district, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) held demonstrations in Digboi, Tinsukia and Upper Assam districts.

Protesters said the Bill would breach the clauses of the “historic” Assam Accord, which states that all illegal immigrants who came into the country from Bangladesh after 1971, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.

“When chief ministers of other Northeastern states have voiced their resentment against the Bill, what stops Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from taking a stand?” an AJYCP protestor asked.

RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, leader of social organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad (KMSS), had earlier expressed concern that the population of Assam would increase as “1.9 crore Bangladeshis would come to the state after the legislation comes into force”.

The Union government said the proposed Bill will have a cut-off date of December 31, 2014, and anyone arriving after this will not be granted citizenship. Home Minister Shah had said the government will not let a single “ghuspeth” (infiltrator) live in Assam or any other part of the country.

North-East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma said the Bill “will not override the existing provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution or the provisions of the Inner Line Permit (ILP)”.

The ILP is an official document issued by state governments that allows inward travel of a citizen into certain areas for a limited period. It is currently in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.

The Lok Sabha had passed the CAB on January 8, but it had lapsed after failing to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle in the Budget session of Parliament, the last before the general elections.

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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