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Movement Against Citizenship Bill Not Anti-Bengali or Anti-Hindu: Ex-Assam CM Prafulla Mahanta

Mahanta, who is one of the three signatories of Assam Accord having led the six-year-long anti-foreigners’ movement (1979-1985), said a section of people might be spreading propaganda and trying to mislead people.

Karishma Hasnat | News18.com

Updated:June 3, 2018, 1:12 PM IST
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Movement Against Citizenship Bill Not Anti-Bengali or Anti-Hindu: Ex-Assam CM Prafulla Mahanta
File photo of Asom Gana Parishad activists, led by former Assam CM Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, taking out a torch light rally against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Guwahati. (Credit: PTI)
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Guwahati: Expressing concerns over “misleading propaganda”, former Assam chief minister and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has said the movement against the Citizenship Bill is not anti-Bengali or anti-Hindu, but a “fight for justice”.

Mahanta, who is one of the three signatories of Assam Accord having led the six-year-long anti-foreigners’ movement (1979-1985), said a section of people might be spreading propaganda and trying to mislead people.

“Some Bengali-speaking people told me that the movement against the Citizenship Bill is turning out to be against the Bengalis. We would like to tell everyone that this is not a movement against Bengalis or Hindus,” Mahanta said.

“Will Saudi Arabia’s government ask all Indian Muslims to come to Arab? Will the Bangladesh government invite all Muslims to their country? And why will India let them go?” asked Mahanta.

Demanding the detection, deletion and deportation of illegal migrants, he added that Assam should get constitutional safeguards as per the Assam Accord, and that the international border should be sealed.

Mahanta recalled the involvement of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Union minister Yashwant Sinha and other political personalities in the Assam agitation against illegal migrants.

“If the Bill is passed, it will dismantle the Assam Accord. We strongly oppose it,” he said.

He demanded that the state government make its stand clear like the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government, which took the decision to oppose the bill a day before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) visited the state.

The Assam Andolan Sangrami Mancha (AASM), an association of Assam Agitation veterans, of which Mahanta and former AGP MP Kumar Dipak Das are members, announced their decision to take out a mass rally on June 8 to the district post office.

“We will march together to the post office and send letters opposing the Citizenship Bill to the Prime Minister, the President, Vice-President, Home Minister and others. We will also be individually meeting ministers and MPs in New Delhi soon,” said Mahanta.

Mahanta, also the former president of the All Assam Students Union, alleged that the government is playing vote bank politics.

“People in Bangladesh are not even aware of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. This was conveyed to me by a Supreme Court advocate from Bangladesh I recently met. The committee of minorities there have also opposed the Bill and criticised the decision of the Indian government. They said they don’t want to go to India and feel secured in their country."

"There are about 29,000 puja pandals in Bangladesh and members of the Hindu community are helped in offering prayers,” said Mahanta.

Meanwhile, protests continue throughout Brahmaputra Valley, with various organisations opposed to the bill coming together for indigenous rights.

| Edited by: Huma Tabassum
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