GUWAHATI, Feb 12 - Terming the proposed amendment to the citizenship law as �dangerous�, �anti-national�, �unconstitutional� and �destructive of the spirit of India�, Justice (retd) Rajindar Sachar today called upon the Opposition in Rajya Sabha to prove their �secular credentials� by thwarting the government�s move to pass the Bill.
�The new law will divide and destroy the nation. This country has been surviving on secularism ideals. The Constitution provides for equality of all. There cannot be any discrimination on religious lines,� Justice Sachar, who had headed the panel which has come up with a comparative report on the condition of minorities and had recommended quota for Muslims, said at a press conference here.
He was here to attend a seminar organised by Justice Forum, Assam and four other organisations fighting for rights of minorities.
�This country is not just of Hindus. The rest are being treated as visitors. All have equal rights here,� he said, insisting that the circumstances in which the Assam Accord was signed were �different�.
Claiming that there has been large-scale violation of human rights in Assam, Justice Sachar also questioned the functioning of Foreigners Tribunals in the State, alleging that �Assamese Muslims were being treated as runaway persons�.
�The father is accepted as an Indian citizen while his son is declared a foreigner. How long will you penalise minorities? They are Assamese first and Hindu or Muslim later. This arbitrariness is not acceptable,� the 93-year-old former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court said.
Supreme Court lawyer and vice president of People�s Union for Civil Liberties Sanjay Parikh said the procedure (of detection of illegal migrants) should be fair and in accordance with principles of natural justice. �There should be substantial material evidence. Here you are giving ex parte judgements... there is no value of witnesses. It is sheer violation of constitutional and human rights,� he said.
Alleging that the problem has escalated due to the policies of the present regime at the Centre, Parikh was also skeptical of the system of appointment of FT members and said the initial onus should be on the government to prove if anyone is a foreigner.
�The procedure should not cause harassment to anyone. You have to be fair with the person,� he said, adding that the condition of the detention camps was very bad and the inmates were living a life worse than animals.
General secretary of Justice Forum, Assam, Matiur Rahman said the citizenship issue in the State was no longer a religious issue but is all about human rights.
�We want to establish that it is a human rights issue and a humanitarian crisis. Through the seminar, which was organised yesterday, we intended to draw the attention of the national intelligentsia and human rights groups to the current situation in the State,� Rahman said.
The organisers also plan to approach the NHRC and United Nations on the issue.