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News18 » India
3-min read

'What if They Take Up Citizenship for Jobs?' As Protests Continue in Assam, Some Fear Misuse of Act

Raising his fears, a 50-year-old Lakhimari village resident said that what if people under the garb of religious persecution in Bangladesh try to come to India. The Act could create division within communities, he added.

Karishma Hasnat | CNN-News18

Updated:December 27, 2019, 10:30 AM IST
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'What if They Take Up Citizenship for Jobs?' As Protests Continue in Assam, Some Fear Misuse of Act
People from different parts of the city took part in the mass rally in Guwahati. (News18)

Guwahati: As the Citizenship Amendment Act continues to overshadow every other issue, there is no reprieve from protests in Assam. However, a fortnight after the dramatic escalation of violence, the protests are now peaceful amid tight security.

The government is seen making all out efforts to win back trust, and with mobile internet services restored, arguments are emerging in social media both for and against the contentious legislation.

A group of artists staged a unique demonstration in Golaghat district on Thursday through paintings and graphical representations of the Citizenship Act.

"We are artistes, and we have a lot of things going on in our mind regarding present times – restlessness, anger, anxiety. I have drawn this painting depicting CAA as a lethal injection that kills – a long needle killing the tiny human embryo in a mother's womb," said Rishikesh Bora while explaining his art, and comparing the Citizenship Act to "a toxic substance threatening current and future generations".

For people living along the northern Dhubri sector of Indo-Bangladesh border in western Assam, their "friends" from Bangladesh have more than a single perspective to share on the issue. Living at a distance of about 500 metre from the border at Jhaskal village, 45-year old Deep Roy believes that "minorities are managing to live in tough conditions" in the neighbouring country.

"We have no problem if they come here. I have come to know of many stories of minorities living in Bangladesh. My friend Biswajit Saha is the proprietor of Partha Sarathi Traders there, and he has told me of the difficulties these people go through. I believe, it is misinformation that migrants would keep coming to Assam from Bangladesh with the implementation of CAA," said Roy, a businessman who hails from the Koch-Rajbongshi community that makes about 17-19% of the population living along the 134.5 km border in northern Dhubri - the undivided Goalpara district, of which Dhubri is a part has a rich history to tell about the erstwhile Koch dynasty.

Not too far away from Deep Roy's residence, and about 4 km from the fully fenced border lives Mizanur Rahman Sarkar, a librarian at the Golakganj College. The 50-year-old temporary government servant of Lakhimari village, however, is wary of the threat posed by the Citizenship Act.

"I have been to Bangladesh a couple of times, and I have never met or heard of any victim of religious persecution. Of the 22% population of Hindus in Bangladesh in 1970, they are now left with just seven per cent - almost 31% of Hindus in Bangladesh occupy government jobs. I spoke with one of my friends there, and he said not just Hindus, but even Muslims in Bangladesh see India as a big country of opportunities. Since Independence, they have been coming to Assam, not because they suffered persecution, but for opportunities," said Sarkar.

"This Act has created problems in the entire country. The government has set a cut-off date of 2014 — what if tomorrow, in 2020 or later, someone under the pretext of suffering religious persecution in Bangladesh wants to come to India – what will they do with those people? This has opened the floodgates, it will create division between communities under same religion. Assam will once again have to bear the migration burden," he added.

Across the state, students continue to be a part of the peaceful anti-government and anti-CAA demonstrations. There is no sign of fatigue, and they have not lost patience.

"There can be absolutely no reason for anybody to support the CAA. It violates the spirit and essence of the Constitution. We will not allow a single foreigner –Hindu or Muslim - who has entered Assam after March 25, 1971, to be given Indian citizenship," said Mriganka Das, a college student from Guwahati as many others expressed a similar sentiment.

(With inputs from Jyotirmoy Chakraborty)

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