Soon after the government has initiated the official procedures of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, people of Assam are in a state of turmoil. On the day of JPC’s hearing, public came out opposing the Bill, fearing that enactment of the Bill will definitely turn the indigenous population to minority.
People are concerned that enactment of the Bill will provide citizenship to the minorities from Bangladesh which will obviously affect the culture, language and tradition of the state. With more than 3 crore population and around 16 lakh unemployed youths in Assam, fear of drastic effect is hovering in the minds of the public.
The Bill amends the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal migrants who are Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, eligible for citizenship.
BJP’s take on it
The BJP led government in Assam is silent on the issue as the Bill was introduced by the Centre in the Lok Sabha. However, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, member of JPC also BJP MP from Jorhat tries to put his sight to the outcry on the Bill stating people are being misled by polarising the issue. The two-day visit to Barak Valley by JPC is only because of the terrain and that it has got nothing to do with the interest of the Bengali speaking population of Barak Valley he further clarified.
Oraganisations Opposing the Bill
Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, General Secretary of All Assam Student’s Union said, ‘AASU shall not allow the Bill to be implemented at any cost. We have submitted our memorandum in the hearings in Delhi. Though it is a process of the Bill amendment, we expect the Centre to take the hearings into consideration.’
Interestingly, Sushmita Dev who happens to be a congress MP from the Barak Valley states that the bill does not propose to give citizenship but it only talks about according refugee status to the affected people.
AGP leader who happens to be in coalition of the BJP led government strongly opposed the Bill. Atul Bora President of AGP said, ‘We shall break our alliance with the BJP government immediately the Bill is enacted.’
Public has flooded social media with complete defiance to the Bill. ‘We are already facing problems of illegal migrants from Bangladesh and passing this Bill only increases the problems’ said Amrit Saharia who like many came out voluntarily to oppose the Bill.
What if the Bill is amended?
Assam Accord which demands deportation for everyone who entered the state illegally after the midnight of March 24, 1971 is totally in contrast to the provisions of the Bill. Also, ULFA leader Rajen Dutta said that there is no point of peace talks with ULFA, if the centre plans to amend the Bill and urged the ULFA leaders Arabindo Rajkhowa, Shashadhar Choudhury, Mithinga Daimary, Chitraban Hazarika on Monday while urging them to withdraw from the ongoing peace process.
Sarbananda Sonowal led government might face problems if the Bill is enacted as the main agenda of the BJP led government in the 2016 elections was solving the illegal migrants issue in Assam. Moreover, the 2019 Lok Sabha elections might see some affects of the Bill if implemented.
The differences between the people of Assamese-majority Brahmaputra Valley and Bengali-dominated Barak Valley over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 came to open on Tuesday when more than 190 organisations listed to submit memorandum in South Assam’s Barak Valley to the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) supporting the proposed amendment. Many are of the opinion that the Bill will definitely go through the Lok Sabha and shall be passed sooner or later irrespective of all these protests and oppositions.
By Manjum Mahanta