Assam: AASU with 28 other student bodies to protest against Citizenship Bill
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians.
The influential All Assam Students' Union Wednesday announced it will launch a series of agitational programmes from November 8 with 28 other fellow organisations to oppose the controversial Citizenship Bill and accused the state government of inflicting "mental torture" on the people by remaining silent on the issue.
A joint meeting of All Assam Students' Union (AASU) and the ethnic communities students' organisations questioned why the Assam government cannot take a decision when a BJP-supported government in Meghalaya took a cabinet decision against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
"After this (BJP) government came to power (in 2016) in Assam, it is imposing mental torture on the people of the state. There is fear among the people whether Assam will remain a state of indigenous people or of Bangladeshis because of the bill granting them Indian citizenship," AASU chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya told reporters.
"Eighty-five per cent of the people of Assam voted for the BJP alliance hoping they would protect the interest of the local people.
"We want to know clearly whether Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is for or against the bill. He says he will protect the interest of the indigenous people but is silent on the bill," the AASU leader said.
"The BJP-supported government in neighbouring Meghalaya took a cabinet decision against the bill. Why can't the Assam government take a similar decision," he asked.
A 12-hour bandh organised on October 23 across Assam against the Citizenship Bill had evoked a widespread response.
AASU president Dipankar Kumar Nath said the agitational programmes include a protest day on November 8 for dropping of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The student leaders feared the proposed legislation would make illegal Bangladeshis in Assam Indian citizens. A solution of the burning foreigners' problem in the state was among the clauses of the historic Assam Accord, 1985.
On November 9, members of AASU and the 28 ethnic organisations will visit the homes of ministers, MLAs and MPs of all political parties to urge them to oppose the bill in the interest of the people of Assam, Nath said.
A march would be taken out in all the districts across the state on November 10 followed by torchlight march and a people's meeting on November 16 to take their advice on how to take forward the movement against the bill, said AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.
(With inputs from agencies.)