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‘BJP manifesto addressed fears, apprehensions on citizenship bill’: Sarbananda Sonowal

In the midst of campaigning in Assam for the crucial 14 Lok Sabha seats, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal of the Bharatiya Janata Party party spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues, from the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) to the recent incident of violence when a mob beat up and then forced a Muslim man to eat pork.

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Apr 14, 2019 08:05 IST
Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times, Guwahati
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal .
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal . (HT Photo )
         

In the midst of campaigning in Assam for the crucial 14 Lok Sabha seats, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal of the Bharatiya Janata Party party spoke to Hindustan Times on a range of issues, from the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) to the recent incident of violence when a mob beat up and then forced a Muslim man to eat pork. Edited excerpts:

Q: Assam is under the ArmedForces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Would you advocate a re-look now that peace has largely returned?

A: Of course, there is peace and that is why Rs 50,000 crore worth of investments were made after Advantage Assam — the global investors summit [held last year]. We have to always be alert in this region for the security of the country... It is a different matter that it (AFSPA) could be withdrawn also strategically…

Q: As chief minister, do you have a message on the attack on a man in the state who was waylaid by a mob recently and thrashed (and forced to eat pork)?

A: Six persons have been picked up. We will not leave any culprit. This is a secular nation. Principle of secularism will be strictly followed… That is the order of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi…We condemn this kind of incident.

Q: People see the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as an attack on the diversity and identity of the region. Is it an issue in these elections?

A: Our manifesto has clarified the apprehensions and fears in the minds of the people in Assam and the North-east… We will take everyone into confidence. We will discuss [this important issue] with all stakeholders. After thorough consultation we will arrive at a consensus… [On Thursday] Modiji again said [that the party will implement] Clause 6 [of the Assam Accord of 1985, which provides constitutional and administrative safeguards for the cultural, linguistic, social identity of Assamese people] . A high level committee with clear terms of reference has been formed the first time. Congress did not do anything
for 40 years.

Q: Were you happy when the Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) was introduced in Parliament given your stand on foreigners?

A: What is the chief minister’s dharma? To ensure security of the people, their self pride. When I saw that I can ensure this, then what is the worry? Modiji cares about Assam and the North-east.

Q: Don’t the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the CAB contradict each other?

A: No, they don’t [contradict each other]. The NRC’s main purpose is to detect illegal migrants in the state of Assam. So, the NRC will complete the first D of Clause 5 (of the Assam Accord), detection. If there is any government which has given importance to Assam Accord it is the Modi government. In a small state like ours, out of five lakh government employees, 55,000 devoted night and day to update the NRC… It disturbed other work in villages. The Assam government and the government of India will complete the NRC under the supervision and deadline of the Supreme Court. Earlier, Congress, Left (parties), and intellectuals spread misinformation because of which people came out on streets.

Q: What will happen to those who are out of the NRC?

A: Let us complete the first D,detection. Then we will think about the other two Ds, deletion (from electoral rolls) and deportation. They will be discussed by Government of India at an appropriate time. The Assam chief secretary recently accepted in Supreme Court of the failure to deport people.

First Published: Apr 14, 2019 07:44 IST

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