Guwahati: While protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, continue across the state, Prime Minister Narendra Modi once again announced his commitment to give shelter to non-Muslim minorities of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, terming it ‘a responsibility’ to be fulfilled by his government.
Addressing a massive gathering at Changsari in Kamrup district on Saturday, PM Modi said that one should differentiate between ‘intruders’ who want to capture India’s resources and the helpless lot who were forced to flee persecution in their country.
“We have to understand the difference – the infiltrators who want to capture India’s resources and the ones who were forced to leave home because of the oppression they faced. Those who restored their faith in Ma Bharati, those who chant ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ – such people had to save their lives and take shelter in India,” said the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Modi kicked off the 2019 general elections campaign at a poll rally in Silchar of Assam’s Barak valley last month. His speech on January 4 mentioned that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, is an atonement for the wrongs committed during India’s partition. The poll campaign in Brahmaputra Valley ended on the same note, chock-full of points in support of the Bill.
“Be it Pakistan, Afghanistan or Bangladesh – before 1947, they were all part of India. When the country was divided based on faith, the religious minorities – Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Christian, Parsi and Buddhist — were made to believe that things will improve, but they were betrayed. It is India’s responsibility to shelter them, a national responsibility which we fulfilled,” PM Modi added.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) observed Condemnation Day today in protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Assam. The AASU supporters waved black flags as the Prime Minister’s cavalcade made way from Raj Bhawan to the airport. At several places in Upper Assam, protesters marched with black flags, released black balloons and burned effigies of the Prime Minister, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in whose constituency the rally was organised.
“What the Prime Minister said is unconstitutional. Who has granted the right to differentiate between people based on religion? It’s a politically motivated statement. Our movement will continue in a democratic way, and people of Assam will give a befitting reply to the ruling government for this political game,” said AASU General Secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi.
Former Assam Director General of Police, Harekrishna Deka said that the Prime Minister wants to play the Hindutva card effectively by asking to differentiate between intruders and others who faced religious persecution, adding that there is no historical support to prove this.
“In effect, he is suggesting that the Hindu illegal migrants from Bangladesh are the helpless displaced people and the Muslim illegal migrants are silent demographic invaders in Assam. He wants to play his Hindutva card effectively. For him, all Hindu migrants crossing over to Assam are victims of persecution in Bangladesh, though there is no historical support to that effect. His logic is that they are victims of persecution for just being Hindu minority in a Muslim majority country. It seems, he is determined to get the amendment passed without caring for the future of Assam's indigenous communities,” said Deka.
Earlier in the day, peasant organization Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti staged a naked protest outside the Assam Secretariat in protest against the Bill. A 12-hour Assam bandh called by a number of Ahom organisations harbouring anti-bill sentiments saw total response in Upper Assam with sporadic attacks reported from a few places.