‘Won’t spare the BJP’, says Assam Students’ Union as protests against Citizenship Bill continue in northeast

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to confer citizenship on non-Muslim religious groups from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
Protests against the Citizenship Bill continued in Assam and other states in the Northeast on Wednesday.(ANI/Twitter)
Protests against the Citizenship Bill continued in Assam and other states in the Northeast on Wednesday.(ANI/Twitter)
Updated on Jan 23, 2019 08:47 PM IST
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Guwahati, Hindustan Times | BySadiq Naqvi and Utpal Parashar

Protests against the Citizenship Bill continued in Assam and other states in the Northeast on Wednesday with agitators warning the BJP that the opposition will intensify.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to confer citizenship on non-Muslim religious groups from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

In Mizoram, many influential NGOs and other organisations have said they will boycott the Republic Day.

“If they continue to move forward with the implementation of the Ciitizenship Amendment Bill we warn that the BJP leaders will have problems in moving around freely,” said Lurin Jyoti Gogoi, General Secretary of the All Assam Students Union (AASU).

A few thousand protestors in their gamusas (traditional towels) and placards from more than thirty organizations, including representatives of North East Students Organisation, gathered in a public meeting at Latasil Field in Guwahati on Thursday.

“We will not spare anybody. This is about our identity,” said Samujjal Bhattacharya, the chief advisor to AASU when asked if the passage of the Bill will affect BJP’s political fortunes.

The BJP, however, continued its successful run in the state with a victory in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council. This is the third recent win for the ruling party in the state which won the recently held panchayat polls and emerged victorious in the civic polls in Karbi Anglong where it won all nine town committees.

The BJP leaders claim that a misinformation campaign is leading to the protests and that the proposed Amendment has a cut-off date of December 2014. “The protests are taking place because of misinformation is spread that 1.9 crore Hindu Bangladeshis will pour into Assam. Our win shows that people are aware that no such thing will happen,” said Rupam Goswami, spokesperson of the BJP.

Bhattacharya, however, said that it is not misinformation that the Bill violates the Assam Accord. “Bill says it will grant citizenship to post-71 migrants up to indefinite period. It does not have any cut-off date,” he said.

AASU was at the forefront of the agitation against foreigners in Assam which started in 1979 and culminated with the Assam Accord in 1985. As many as 855 people lost their lives in the agitation.

“This movement will not fade away till they scrap the Bill,” said Madhab Baisya who travelled from Dibrugarh to attend the protest. He was part of the agitation in 1979. “That was much bigger of course,” he said.

“The protests are only going to intensify if they do not scrap the Bill,” said Promod Boro, President of the All Bodo Students Union.

Earlier on Monday, Pallab Bhattacharyya, Director General of Assam Police who is in-charge of the intelligence wing, said the law and order machinery is apprehensive after the Ciitizenship Amendment Bill was passed in Lok Sabha.

“In this surcharged atmosphere vulnerable groups like Hindi speakers, Bengali Hindus and BJP workers could be the likely target of the ULFA(Independent), the militant outfit,” he said.

In Mizoram, Chief Minister Zoramthanga said his government was in talks with the influential Coordination Committee of the NGOs after they announced a boycott of the Republic Day in protests over the Citizenship Bill.

“Since it is the Republic Day we would like to have the functions. Our home minister is talking to the NGO leaders for a resolution,” Zoramthanga, who has been a vocal opponent of the Bill said.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022