GUWAHATI, April 12 - Adoption of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will pose a threat to the culture, language and identity of the people of Assam and all individuals and organisations opposed to the proposed legislation should join hands to thwart the adoption of the Bill.
This view was echoed by various eminent people from different walks of life during a sit-in protest demonstration organised here today by the �Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill�.
The protest witnessed an interesting spectacle with leaders from various Left-wing groups, civil society members, intellectuals, being joined by Congress as well as dissident BJP members.
Addressing the gathering, writer-columnist and chairman of the Forum, Dr Hiren Gohain said the ruling dispensation has taken many decisions that have resulted in hardship and misery to the common people of the country. He cited the examples of demonetisation, mismanagement in the GST rollout and problems faced by small traders.
�For the common people, it has become difficult to even sustain livelihood. And now the local people of Assam are faced with another threat and that is of the likelihood of citizenship being granted to lakhs of Bangladeshi Hindus,� said Dr Gohain.
He said in a land-scarce state like Assam, granting of citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus will lead to local and indigenous people facing threat to their land rights.
�This dispensation is handing out land at dirt cheap rates to business houses for building of hotels and other ventures. But the indigenous people of Assam are facing threat to their right to land and livelihood as well as to their political right,� he added.
He accused the BJP of trying to polarise the society and said that the saffron party is inflaming passions in the name of religion. �If the same thing happens in Assam it will be a threat to the very fabric of our State. The Bill is against the people of Assam and we cannot support it,� he said.
�We had assumed that the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) will visit Assam to seek the views of the people of the State regarding the Bill. But so far they have only called a few selected organisations to Delhi to seek their opinion. A majority of the organisations in Assam have not yet been contacted,� he added.
He said the JPC is postponing its proposed visit to Assam citing one pretext after another and added that people of the State will take the path of massive agitation if their views are not taken into consideration with regard to the proposed legislation.
Terming the present situation as a �very critical period� in the history of Assam, senior journalist Haider Hussain said, �We need a united front of all organisations and people who are opposed to the Bill... The movement should be intensified and the nefarious designs of the ruling dispensation should be exposed.�
State BJP leader Mira Borthakur, who also took part in the sit-in, said that Sarbananda Sonowal, who once earned the sobriquet of �Jatiya Nayak� no doubt has certain obligations and compulsions after assuming office as the Chief Minister but hoped that in the matter of the Bill he would carry forward his �uncompromising politics�.
All the people of Assam, irrespective of ideology, should extend a helping hand to the Chief Minister, she said, adding, �the Hindu Bengalis of Assam have no reason to be apprehensive. However, doing anything that will make Hindu Bangladeshis a majority in our State is unacceptable.�
She accused AGP leaders, including party president and State minister Atul Bora, are compromising on the issue for the sake of power. She said many former AASU leaders like Tapan Kumar Gogoi have also changed their stand after joining the BJP.
Borthakur called upon Sonowal as well as AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya not to compromise on the issue of the Bill and hoped that they will, through their struggle, leave a legacy for the State.
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee president Ripun Bora also joined the sit-in and said that the party will soon file a complaint to the Lok Sabha Speaker regarding the alleged controversial comments by the JPC chairman. He said the BJP is trying to divide the society and added that the Congress wants the foreigners issue to be settled as per the provisions of the Assam Accord.
Among others who spoke on the occasion were litterateur Nirupama Borgohain, CPI(M) Assam State secretary Deben Bhattacharya, writer Indibor Deuri and educationist Dr Dinesh Baishya.