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Saturday, Dec 14, 2019

Citizenship Bill: Protests may continue in Assam

The draft of the law approved by the Union Cabinet fast tracks Indian citizenship for six non-Muslim religious groups from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2019 00:57 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
A police officer removes burning effigies that were set on fire by Activists from the All Assam Students Union (AASU) during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Guwahati.
A police officer removes burning effigies that were set on fire by Activists from the All Assam Students Union (AASU) during a protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill in Guwahati. (REUTERS)
         

Political parties and civil society groups in Assam continue to protest against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill which was cleared by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday.

“It is being forcibly imposed on the people of Assam against their wishes. CAB is anti-secular, against the basic structure of Constitution. It is a divisive policy,” said the Congress’s Tarun Gogoi, former CM of Assam.

“It is an insult to the injury of the people of Assam. We will continue to oppose it,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief adviser to the All Assam Students Union (AASU), a signatory of the 1985 Assam Accord which promised deportation of any illegal foreigners who entered the state after March 24, 1971. AASU and 30 other organisations continue to protest against the bill.

The draft of the law approved by the Union Cabinet fast tracks Indian citizenship for six non-Muslim religious groups from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The amendment proposes to exempt states with inner line permit (ILP) regime and areas which are under the sixth schedule of the Indian Constitution from the provisions of the law.

“If it is bad for sixth schedule areas and areas under the ILP, how can it be good for other areas of Assam and other states,” Bhattacharya questioned.

Chandra Mohan Patowary, cabinet minister and state government’s spokesperson refused to comment . “It won’t be possible for me to comment at this point as Assembly session is on,” he said.

In Assam, the government also sees CAB as a way to address fault-lines opened up by the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which has excluded 1.9 million people, both Hindus and Muslims. NRC in the state was an outcome of the Assam accord, although its implementation required an intervention by the Supreme Court. The Assam accord, signed on August 15, 1985.

“It will be challenged in court because it is against the basic structure of Constitution,” he said adding it is an attempt to hoodwink the Hindus.

Aminul Islam, the general secretary of the All India United Democratic Front, the party headed by Badruddin Ajmal held a protest on Wednesday and said the proposed legislation violates the “Constitution’s basic structure, nullifies Assam Accord and the Citizenship Act.”