NEW DELHI, Aug 7 - The BJP-led NDA government�s move to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 came in for stiff opposition with organisations and intellectuals urging the Centre not to go ahead with the Bill that proposes to grant citizenship to Hindu Bengalis among others.
At a national seminar on �Illegal Influx of Foreigner Nationals in Assam and Implementation of Assam Accord in the Context of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016�, organised by the Asom Andolan Sangrami Mancha (AASM) at the Press Club of India here today, speakers criticised the BJP government for introducing the Bill.
Participating in the seminar moderated by TV 18 Editor Gaurav Choudhury, former Assam Chief Minister and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is going to violate the main spirit of the Assam Accord and the Bill should not be passed.
�This is an unconstitutional move by the BJP government, which is trying to pass the Bill in the Parliament. The AASM and other organisations and intellectual have also petitioned the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and requested it not to recommend passage of the Bill in the Parliament because the people of Assam have already suffered a lot,� he said.
�Assam is not a dustbin and you may be aware that at the time of the Partition, there was a move to annex Assam with Pakistan. There is a long history. The people who have migrated from East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) have been absorbed by Assam,� he reminded.
�After preparation of the NRC in Assam, its neighbouring states have started stopping non-tribals from entering their states. Thus, Assam has become a dumping ground... different districts have witnessed high population growth rate. As per records, increase in birth rate in Assam is higher than the national growth rate,� Mahanta said.
Speaking in the seminar, Shekhar Gupta, Editor of The Print, said, �We know that a large number of people did not go back after 1971 and the BJP has made its move obvious that they want to protect the Hindus and drive out the Muslims... You (Assam) are being dragged into a larger fight.�
He added: �If any benefit you extend to the Hindus of Indian origin, then you must extend the same benefits to the Muslims. You cannot make that distinction. Particularly when you know that it is not sustainable legally.�
Asserting that Assam is now on a very difficult trail because key parties have lost their steam and the AGP is with the BJP, he said, �I don�t know whether they (AGP) follow BJP-RSS ideology, but if they disagree they should come out openly. How you could have a law in India that says that people of certain religion can get citizenship.�
The seminar was also addressed by former bureaucrat MP Bezbaruah.