India's Move to Legitimise Migrants From Neighbouring Countries Sparks Protests

09 January, 2019, 07:38 | Author: Angel Logan
  • Protesters against the bill have accused settlers of taking away jobs from indigenous groups

The state minister had earlier said the bill would help ensure that Assam does not go into the hands of those who follow Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah's ideology.

Accusing the BJP of adopting an anti-Assam policy, Mahanta said, "Let the BJP form a new government alone".

"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues".

The proposed Citizenship Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

AGP president Atul Bora had last month written to BJP chief Amit Shah, saying the party will have no alternative but to "repudiate the existing alliance" in case of such an eventuality.

Assam's people will never allow this bill to be implemented.

While addressing a protest meeting against the Citizenship Bill in Guwahati on Monday, Mr Mahanta stated that his party was all set to walk out of the alliance with the BJP. The indigenous people have been opposing the bill as they feel that granting citizenship status to immigrants will erode their limited opportunities in terms of employment and other social benefits.

The Bill was cleared at a meeting of the Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and it's expected to be tabled in Lok Sabha on Tuesday, an official privy to the development said.

In Nagaland, the cabinet of the NDPP-BJP alliance government has made a decision to ask the Centre to reconsider the bill.

The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), a partner in the BJP-led Assam government, broke up with the BJP while the NDA allies, the Shiv Sena and the JD (U), have opposed this legislation. The move came within hours of the presentation in Lok Sabha of a report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the bill that was first introduced in Parliament in 2016.

The AGP with 14 seats in the assembly had entered into an alliance with the BJP before the 2014 polls and was opposed to the Citizenship Amendment Bill since the beginning.

Thirty ethnic organisations also supported the bandh in Assam.

"We're trying to save Assam from Jinnah", BJP leader and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, referring to Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was instrumental in carving Muslim-dominated Pakistan out of India after winning independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill amid a walkout by several Opposition parties, including the Congress and Trinamool Congress.

Police and security forces deployed in Dibrugarh had to fire gunshots in the air and also tear gas to disperse a mob that went unruly in the town, which is home to Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Protest organizer Samujjal Bhattacharya, a leader of the All Assam Students Union, said the legislation would confer citizenship on the basis of religion, violating India's secular constitution.

The bill provides for according Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after six years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm now, even if they do not possess any document.

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".

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.

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