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'Citizenship Amendment Bill' passage marked by violent bandh in Assam

09 January 2019

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) pulled out of the BJP-led coalition government in Assam over the Citizenship Amendment Bill after its "last-ditch attempt to convince" the Centre to withdrew the proposed legislation failed on Monday.

Indigenous people from the state of Assam feel that immigrants who are already eating into their limited resources and rights will benefit further once they are legitimized by citizenship.

"We tried our best to convince the Modi government not to pursue the Bill that goes against the constitutional provisions, besides being potentially risky for the indigenous people of Assam".

IPFT had raised a case for a revision of the citizens' register to safeguard the state's demography, despite Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb's assertion that there is no need for it. Reports of a rift in the alliance surfaced hereafter, with the IPFT reportedly going back to its secessionist demand for a separate state (Twiparaland) for the state tribals. "If Sonowal, his cabinet colleagues and the state BJP leadership had taken a strong stand and respected people's sentiments on the bill, then the Centre would not have dared to go ahead with such arrogance", Bora said. "After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance", Bora said in New Delhi after meeting the home minister. The influential student body, All Assam Students' Union (AASU), has claimed this is the first time in 10 years that the student outfit has called a bandh. "The Assamese and other indigenous peoples feel betrayed by the Narendra Modi government, which seems hell bent upon making Assam a dumping ground for foreigners thereby threatening our existence", AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattarcharya said.

The BJP had promised to ensure the passage of the bill in the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

The BJP has 61 members and the party has support from 12 MLAs of the Bodoland People's Front and the sole Independent member.

"The Left Parties, the Congress and many other parties would strongly oppose the bill".

CoHSO Chairman Robertjune Kharjahrin said the Citizenship Amendment Bill was a threat not only to the indigenous tribals in the NorthEast but a national security threat as well.

IPFT Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that National Federation for New States (NFNS), a conglomerate of many small parties in the northeastern region and other states, has also been opposing the Bill.

MP Sanjay Raut said, "We're also opposing the Citizenship Amendment Bill".

Asked if the National People's Party will put out of the BJP-led NDA government, the NPP Chief said: "We have been very clear to the NDA that this is something we will not support".

Saying that the bill was against the principle of secularism, the CM told mediapersons, "If passed, the bill would be harmful to states like Mizoram where there is a large number of illegal Buddhist migrants from Bangladesh".

The AGP had placed its reservations on the Bill before the Joint Parliamentary Committee when the panel had visited the state and also tried to mobilise opinion against the Bill among NDA constituents such as the JD (U) and Shiv Sena, and opposition parties.

The controversial bill would grant citizenship to select groups - including Hindus, Christians and Sikhs, but not Muslims - who have moved from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and lived in India for at least six years.

'Citizenship Amendment Bill' passage marked by violent bandh in Assam