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Sonowal allays fear over citizenship Bill

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Feb 1 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said that the indigenous people of Assam have no reason to be apprehensive on account of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and added that the government is committed to providing constitutional safeguards to the locals.

Replying to a debate on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor�s Address at the Legislative Assembly, Sonowal also called upon all those opposing the proposed legislation not to create unrest over it. Nothing should be done to hurt the educational and working environment of the State, he said.

�Prime Minister Narendra Modi will never take any decision against the interest of Assam and the Northeast� That is why the Union Cabinet formed the high-powered committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. No other Cabinet at Centre had ever taken the interest of Assam and the Northeast so seriously,� he said.

�At times I wonder why the previous governments took no steps to implement Clause 6. If we lose our bheti, then where will our language, culture and heritages go?� said Sonowal.

He said that a lot of misinformation is being spread with regard to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

�Time will not forgive you if you continue to spread confusion citing one falsehood or another,� he said, calling upon those opposing the Bill to protest in a democratic manner.

Speaking on the Bill brought by the Centre to provide ST status to six communities of the State, he said that granting ST status to these communities will help in ensuring the indigenous people of Assam remain dominant in the political, economic and social spheres. He added that ST status to the six communities will be granted in such a way that the rights enjoyed by the existing STs are not curtailed or infringed upon.

Sonowal said that investments to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore have come to the State since the Advantage Assam summit was held. Assam needs �work culture� for industries to be interested to come and invest here, he said.

Referring to recent incidents where he and other ministers of the State and leaders of the BJP have been shown black flags at many places, Sonowal said in a light-hearted manner, �All colours are our own in a democracy, whether black or white, red or blue. There should be no discrimination on the basis of colour. Today I am myself wearing a black coat.�

Sonowal said India was divided on the basis of religion and Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh (earlier East Pakistan) have faced persecution since the time of Independence. �That is why Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel spoke about giving shelter to persecuted minorities from the neighbouring countries. That is why the government has decided, on humanitarian grounds, to give citizenship to these people who are suffering an uncertain future. There is an effort to sow confusion on the issue,� Sonowal said.

He added that some people are accusing the government of violating Cause 5 of the Assam Accord. �Cause 5 deals with detection, deletion and deportation. The fact is that strong steps have been taken during the time of the Modi government to implement it. During the 2005 tripartite discussions, a decision was taken to seal the international border within one year and to undertake NRC update within two years. Those decisions were not implemented. No ground work was done by the previous government to seal the border. The Land Swap Deal signed by the Modi government helped in starting the process for sealing of the border,� said Sonowal.

He added that the previous Congress government in Assam suspended the NRC pilot project after some incidents of protests. �But the draft NRC was published during the time of our government. And now, as per Supreme Court directions, the final NRC will be completed by July 31. Preparation of the NRC will complete the process for detection of foreigners as per Clause 5 of the Assam Accord. So it is a blatant lie if anybody states that we are violating Clause 5,� Sonowal said, adding that sealing of the riverine portion of the India-Bangladesh border will be completed by March.

Earlier, taking part in the debate, AGP MLA Pabindra Deka said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, if passed, will threaten the identity and existence of the indigenous people of the Northeast.

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Sonowal allays fear over citizenship Bill

GUWAHATI, Feb 1 - Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today said that the indigenous people of Assam have no reason to be apprehensive on account of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and added that the government is committed to providing constitutional safeguards to the locals.

Replying to a debate on the Motion of Thanks on the Governor�s Address at the Legislative Assembly, Sonowal also called upon all those opposing the proposed legislation not to create unrest over it. Nothing should be done to hurt the educational and working environment of the State, he said.

�Prime Minister Narendra Modi will never take any decision against the interest of Assam and the Northeast� That is why the Union Cabinet formed the high-powered committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. No other Cabinet at Centre had ever taken the interest of Assam and the Northeast so seriously,� he said.

�At times I wonder why the previous governments took no steps to implement Clause 6. If we lose our bheti, then where will our language, culture and heritages go?� said Sonowal.

He said that a lot of misinformation is being spread with regard to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

�Time will not forgive you if you continue to spread confusion citing one falsehood or another,� he said, calling upon those opposing the Bill to protest in a democratic manner.

Speaking on the Bill brought by the Centre to provide ST status to six communities of the State, he said that granting ST status to these communities will help in ensuring the indigenous people of Assam remain dominant in the political, economic and social spheres. He added that ST status to the six communities will be granted in such a way that the rights enjoyed by the existing STs are not curtailed or infringed upon.

Sonowal said that investments to the tune of Rs 12,000 crore have come to the State since the Advantage Assam summit was held. Assam needs �work culture� for industries to be interested to come and invest here, he said.

Referring to recent incidents where he and other ministers of the State and leaders of the BJP have been shown black flags at many places, Sonowal said in a light-hearted manner, �All colours are our own in a democracy, whether black or white, red or blue. There should be no discrimination on the basis of colour. Today I am myself wearing a black coat.�

Sonowal said India was divided on the basis of religion and Hindus and other minorities in Pakistan and Bangladesh (earlier East Pakistan) have faced persecution since the time of Independence. �That is why Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel spoke about giving shelter to persecuted minorities from the neighbouring countries. That is why the government has decided, on humanitarian grounds, to give citizenship to these people who are suffering an uncertain future. There is an effort to sow confusion on the issue,� Sonowal said.

He added that some people are accusing the government of violating Cause 5 of the Assam Accord. �Cause 5 deals with detection, deletion and deportation. The fact is that strong steps have been taken during the time of the Modi government to implement it. During the 2005 tripartite discussions, a decision was taken to seal the international border within one year and to undertake NRC update within two years. Those decisions were not implemented. No ground work was done by the previous government to seal the border. The Land Swap Deal signed by the Modi government helped in starting the process for sealing of the border,� said Sonowal.

He added that the previous Congress government in Assam suspended the NRC pilot project after some incidents of protests. �But the draft NRC was published during the time of our government. And now, as per Supreme Court directions, the final NRC will be completed by July 31. Preparation of the NRC will complete the process for detection of foreigners as per Clause 5 of the Assam Accord. So it is a blatant lie if anybody states that we are violating Clause 5,� Sonowal said, adding that sealing of the riverine portion of the India-Bangladesh border will be completed by March.

Earlier, taking part in the debate, AGP MLA Pabindra Deka said that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, if passed, will threaten the identity and existence of the indigenous people of the Northeast.

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