GUWAHATI, Oct 23 - �The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is a threat to the Assamese society and scrapping the Bill, by any means, is the need of the hour. People of Assam have little time to waste, rather it is time to thwart all attempts to hurt the interest of the Assamese society,� said Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, former Chief Minister and founder president of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), while addressing a protest rally here today.
The protest rally organised by the AGP at Latasil playground was attended by thousands of people who came in buses from different parts of the State. The MRD Road, an otherwise busy road that wore a deserted look today due to the 12-hour Assam bandh called by various organisations against the citizenship Bill, turned into a makeshift parking stretch with hundreds of buses lined up on both sides of the road.
Later, a procession was also taken out from the Latasil playground to the Assam Engineering Institute playground, Chandmari with party workers flooding the road raising slogans against the controversial Bill.
The AGP, an alliance partner of the BJP-led coalition government of Assam with three cabinet ministers, carried out the protest against the Bill, after a party delegation led by its president and State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora called on three members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) � Saugata Roy, Bhartruhari Mahtab and Swapan Dasgupta � in New Delhi on Monday to reiterate their opposition to the Bill.
�The ruling party of the country should never underestimate the interest and sentiment of the Assamese people. We have been opposing the Bill from day one and we will continue to do so. Already hundreds of Assamese people had sacrificed their lives to protect the identity of indigenous people during the Assam agitation and we will never let the sacrifice of the martyrs go in vain,� Mahanta added.
Addressing the gathering, Atul Bora said, �We will stop the Bill by any means. The Bill stands in violation of the historic Assam Accord. We will never allow violation of the accord under any circumstances. Our fight against the Bill will continue until and unless the Centre withdraws it.�
Significantly, former AGP president Brindaban Goswami, while attending the protest rally, said, �The Bill was not in the BJP�s agenda when we entered into a coalition with them. But now that we have no representation in the Parliament, we were left with no other choice but to register our protest by coming onto the streets.�
Senior AGP leader and the State Water Resources Minister Keshab Mahanta said, �From the pre-independence era, people of Assam have been through a series of troubled times. Now the history is repeating itself. It is time to unite to save our identity. The Bill is a threat to us. We will never allow the Bill to be passed in the Parliament.�
AGP leader and Assam Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Minister Phani Bhusan Choudhury thanked all for the overwhelming support in the protest rally.
Former MP and AGP leader Birendra Prasad Baishya said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has failed in his own commitment which was to deport all illegal migrants from Assam.
�As we have no MP, we had meetings with various regional political parties like the AIDMK, DMK, Akali Dal, etc., in the past few days requesting them to oppose the Bill in the Parliament. All of them have assured us to do so,� Baishya said.
Former minister Rekha Rani Das Bodo said, �It is time to identify and neutralise the evil forces. We will never allow such forces to destroy our language and identity.�
Senior journalist Adip Phukan, writer Maini Mahanta, advocate Nekibur Zaman and many eminent persons of the State also took part in the programme.