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Forum slams Centre, State govt over JPC meet on Citizenship Act

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GUWAHATI, April 5 - Voicing strong opposition to the Centre�s move to amend the Citizenship Act, the Nagarikatwa Aain Sansodhan Birodhi Mancha (Forum Against Citizenship Amendment Bill) today accused the Union Government of hatching a conspiracy against the people of Assam by delaying the process of public hearing in the State.

The Forum also ridiculed the security concerns attributed to the State Government by media reports behind the reluctance of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to hold a public hearing even after promising it almost one-and-a-half-years back. It alleged that the JPC was keeping the Forum and several other mass organisations out of the ambit of the hearing while inviting some little-known organisations.

The Forum has submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker, highlighting the danger to the State�s indigenous people in the event of the passing of the Amendment Bill, which would facilitate Indian citizenship for lakhs of Hindu Bangladeshis and their settlement in Assam.

�The JPC public hearing was first scheduled for November 2 and 3, 2016 but that never materialised. We believe there is a conspiracy to keep out genuine stakeholders out of the hearing. The Assam Government�s fear of security is ridiculous to be convincing. If the Government can provide security to the Prime Minister and other celebrities during their visits, then why can�t it do so for the members of the JPC which, in any case, has several members from Assam,� Forum office-bearers Dr Hiren Gohain, Harekrishna Deka, Prof Udayaditya Bharali, Dr Dinesh Baishya, Prof Abu Naser Sayed Ahmed and JP Saikia said at a joint press conference.

The Forum also urged the organisations that have been invited to the public hearing in Delhi on April 12 to boycott it, as the JPC failed to hold the meeting in Assam and also did not invite several important organisations, including it.

Pointing out the perils stemming from the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindu and non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Dr Gohain said such an eventuality would effectively negate Assam�s linguistic identity and effect irreversible demographic changes, rendering the indigenous people minorities in their homeland.

�We are not against any community but the age-old composite Assamese identity and ethos cannot be allowed to be destroyed. Assam has over the decades borne the brunt of large-scale illegal migration � both Hindus and Muslims � from Bangladesh and accepted those as Indian citizens based on the cut-off date of March 25, 1971. The State is not in a position to accommodate any more migrants,� he said.

Deka said the State Government�s citing of security concerns for not allowing the JPC hearing was tantamount to a shocking admission of its weakness, and in fact, a blot on the Government. �I was a former chief of police and let me tell you that no police establishment would ever convey to the Government that it cannot provide security to any visiting dignitary. This is a pure lame excuse. The reality is that the Government is toeing the lines of the Centre in facilitating large-scale entry of Hindu migrants,� he said.

The speakers also alleged that there was a widespread propaganda to portray Bangladesh as an unsafe place for Hindus. �Hindus did suffer atrocities in Bangladesh but the situation since the past one decade has been quite normal. We have Hindu friends there and they tell us they are not in favour of settling in India in the wake of the Indian Government�s move,� said Prof Ahmed and Dr Baishya.

The speakers reasoned that if illegal migration was a threat to Assam and even India, as observed by the Supreme Court, in no way could there be any differentiation of illegal migrants on the basis of their religion.

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Forum slams Centre, State govt over JPC meet on Citizenship Act

GUWAHATI, April 5 - Voicing strong opposition to the Centre�s move to amend the Citizenship Act, the Nagarikatwa Aain Sansodhan Birodhi Mancha (Forum Against Citizenship Amendment Bill) today accused the Union Government of hatching a conspiracy against the people of Assam by delaying the process of public hearing in the State.

The Forum also ridiculed the security concerns attributed to the State Government by media reports behind the reluctance of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to hold a public hearing even after promising it almost one-and-a-half-years back. It alleged that the JPC was keeping the Forum and several other mass organisations out of the ambit of the hearing while inviting some little-known organisations.

The Forum has submitted a memorandum to the Lok Sabha Speaker, highlighting the danger to the State�s indigenous people in the event of the passing of the Amendment Bill, which would facilitate Indian citizenship for lakhs of Hindu Bangladeshis and their settlement in Assam.

�The JPC public hearing was first scheduled for November 2 and 3, 2016 but that never materialised. We believe there is a conspiracy to keep out genuine stakeholders out of the hearing. The Assam Government�s fear of security is ridiculous to be convincing. If the Government can provide security to the Prime Minister and other celebrities during their visits, then why can�t it do so for the members of the JPC which, in any case, has several members from Assam,� Forum office-bearers Dr Hiren Gohain, Harekrishna Deka, Prof Udayaditya Bharali, Dr Dinesh Baishya, Prof Abu Naser Sayed Ahmed and JP Saikia said at a joint press conference.

The Forum also urged the organisations that have been invited to the public hearing in Delhi on April 12 to boycott it, as the JPC failed to hold the meeting in Assam and also did not invite several important organisations, including it.

Pointing out the perils stemming from the grant of Indian citizenship to Hindu and non-Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, Dr Gohain said such an eventuality would effectively negate Assam�s linguistic identity and effect irreversible demographic changes, rendering the indigenous people minorities in their homeland.

�We are not against any community but the age-old composite Assamese identity and ethos cannot be allowed to be destroyed. Assam has over the decades borne the brunt of large-scale illegal migration � both Hindus and Muslims � from Bangladesh and accepted those as Indian citizens based on the cut-off date of March 25, 1971. The State is not in a position to accommodate any more migrants,� he said.

Deka said the State Government�s citing of security concerns for not allowing the JPC hearing was tantamount to a shocking admission of its weakness, and in fact, a blot on the Government. �I was a former chief of police and let me tell you that no police establishment would ever convey to the Government that it cannot provide security to any visiting dignitary. This is a pure lame excuse. The reality is that the Government is toeing the lines of the Centre in facilitating large-scale entry of Hindu migrants,� he said.

The speakers also alleged that there was a widespread propaganda to portray Bangladesh as an unsafe place for Hindus. �Hindus did suffer atrocities in Bangladesh but the situation since the past one decade has been quite normal. We have Hindu friends there and they tell us they are not in favour of settling in India in the wake of the Indian Government�s move,� said Prof Ahmed and Dr Baishya.

The speakers reasoned that if illegal migration was a threat to Assam and even India, as observed by the Supreme Court, in no way could there be any differentiation of illegal migrants on the basis of their religion.

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