Will Modi govt be able to ignore strong protests against Citizenship Amendment Bill in Assam?
Guwahati, June 30: On Friday, once again massive protests rocked in Assam against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Members of at least 29 indigenous organisations, including a students' union body, took to the streets in Guwahati, urging the government to safeguard the constitutional rights of the local people.
People from different walks of life joined the protest rally that was taken out from Latasil Field in the city and culminated at Assam Engineering Institute playground, a member of All Assam Students' Union (AASU) said.
The Bill is "unconstitutional and unacceptable", it will put the identity of local people at stake, AASU Advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said.
"The only solution acceptable to us is the revocation of the Bill. We urge the opposition parties to push the government in that direction," the AASU leader said at the protest meet. The Northeast region is not a "dumping ground" for illegal Bangladeshis, Bhattacharya added.
"Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had been saying that people of the state should have faith in the government, but we are worried as the existence of tribal people here has come under threat," he stated.
The Bill, introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act 1955, proposes to make illegal migrants of six communities--Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians--eligible for Indian citizenship after six years of residence in the country.
The central government should initiate a bilateral dialogue with the Bangladeshi government to ensure deportation of Bangaldeshis, who have been putting up illegally in the region, he said.
"It is high time the debate over the controversial Citizenship Bill is put to rest. The Centre should introduce constitutional safeguards to protect the identity of the people and this includes an inner line permit in the Northeast states, taking into consideration the local conditions," Bhattacharya added.
A Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Bill had visited Guwahati and Silchar in May to gather views of political and social organisations as well the general public on the proposed amendment.
Opinions on the Bill, however, appeared divided in Assam, with people in Barak valley voicing support to it, while those in Brahmaputra valley opposing the amendment tooth and nail.
Political observers say as the protesters are determined to stop any attempts to threaten their existence, thus the ongoing agitation against the Bill is likely to continue till the Narendra Modi government at the Centre agrees not to amend the original Bill of 1955.