Citizenship Amendment Bill passed in Lok Sabha

09 January, 2019, 11:34 | Author: Trevor Moore
  • Assam Police personnel remove black flags from Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti activists protesting with 69 other indigenous organisations of Assam during a demonstration against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016. — AFP

The Lok Sabha yesterday passed a legislation that will grant citizenship to members of certain religious minorities but not Muslims, sparking protests in the country's northeast.

The AGP leaders hoped that Amit Shah's "good office" would certainly take necessary steps so that the bill is not placed in Parliament at any point of time.

On Sunday, senior Assam minister and BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma said if the Citizenship bill isn't brought in, "at least 17 assembly seats will go to Jinnahs".

"The party (AGP) was born for the cause of the indigenous people and can not go against them".

He affirmed that the NESO would continue with its movement along with its federal units after the Rajya Sabha session.

The Cabinet has approved Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) in the Lok Sabha on January 7.

"We have identified the stone pelters by seeing video footage and they will be booked soon", Assam police official Surjeet Singh Panesar said. "After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance".

Bora and the AGP leadership had promised that they would exit the alliance if the BJP advanced with the bill.

Bora, along with Kesab Mahanta, the AGP working president, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the party are ministers in the BJP-led government in Assam.

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In Tuesday's protests in Assam, the militant North East Students' Organization (NESO) vandalised offices of Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and set banners and posters on fire.

Another BJP ally Shiv Sena voiced support for AGP's decision to snap ties with the saffron party on Monday. Asked if the ministers have tendered their resignations, Bora said, "We will do that after reaching Guwahati". "The Bill will provide relief to persecuted migrants who have come through western borders of the country to states such as Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, and others", he added.

The letter, whose copy was given by Bora to reporters at a press conference on December 10, stated that the AGP is fully committed to the implementation of the Assam Accord of 1985.

The severance of alliance with the BJP, however, would not make the government fall in Assam.

"There are more important issues to look after rather than sitting beside Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and clapping his hands".

The chief minister had assured us that the Centre will not go against the interest of the Assamese people but it is "unfortunate that he did not do enough to stall the bill", the AGP president said. The bill made illegal migrants - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship. The Congress, TMC, CPI (M) and a few other parties have been steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship can not be given on basis of religion, as India is secular.

The proposal has been hotly contested in Assam, a hilly state that has witnessed violence between settlers and indigenous groups, who say they have lost land and jobs to the newer entrants.

JD (U) national general secretary Sanjay Verma said his party will oppose the bill because it will do no good to the identity and culture of Assam and the northeast.

Suhas Chakma, director of the New Delhi-based Rights and Risks Analysis Group, said the citizenship bill was "absolutely unconstitutional as it targets specific groups".

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