GUWAHATI, April 9 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today assured that if voted to power, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) led Government would go for a detailed consultation with all the stakeholders before bringing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill again. It may be mentioned here that the BJP, in its election manifesto released yesterday, said that it would reintroduce the Bill in Parliament if voted to power.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Sonowal said that the BJP would not impose the Bill without taking into consideration the views of the indigenous people of the State. He said that the apprehensions expressed by the indigenous people would be addressed in thorough consultation with all the stakeholders before bringing the Bill again. He asserted that only after the apprehensions are addressed, the Bill would be moved again.
Sonowal claimed that the BJP is fully committed to protect the interests of the indigenous people of the State and that is why, a high level committee was formed to suggest measures for implementation of clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which provides for providing constitutional protection to Assamese people. He said that the committee has been asked to suggest measures on issues like land rights, seat reservation, protection of cultural heritage and language etc of the indigenous people. When pointed out that several members of the committee had refused to be a part of it, he said, �we are hopeful that all the members would cooperate and we are in touch with them. There is also a provision for inclusion of more members in the committee if required.�
The issue of illegal migration has always been a major issue for the BJP and it is often alleged that the party failed to fulfill its promises on the issue. When asked to comment on it, the Chief Minister said that the Congress does not have any right to comment on the issue as it failed to take any positive steps for the implementation of the Assam Accord. He also said that the Congress brought the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunals) Act to protect the interests of illegal migrants. The Act was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2005.
On the allegation of the failure of the Government to detect and deport foreigners as promised, the Chief Minister said that the Central and State Governments are extending full cooperation to the process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which is going on under the supervision of the Supreme Court. �After the NRC is published, we will get an idea on the number of foreigners living illegally in the State and the next step would be deletion of their names from the electoral rolls and the final step would be deportation,� he added.
Giving details of the steps taken to seal the international border with Bangladesh to prevent further infiltration, Sonowal said that the NDA Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed the land boundary agreement with Bangladesh to properly demarcate the boundary, because of which the process of fencing the border could be expedited. He said that 60 kilometre riverine border in Dhubri district was considered most vulnerable and the Prime Minister had directed the Union Home Minister to visit Israel to acquire latest surveillance technology to guard the riverine border. Now the latest available technology has been put in place to improve vigil along the riverine border and the implementation of the project was inaugurated by the Union Home Minister recently.
Sonowal further said that for the first time, ex gratia payment of Rs five lakh each was made to the families of the victims of the martyrs of the Assam agitation and the Government is also planning to set up a monument in Guwahati to keep the memories of the martyrs alive.