GUWAHATI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday said the Centre was working hard to get the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 passed in the Parliament.
“The government is going ahead with the Citizenship Bill which involves the lives of people. This Bill is aimed at expiating injustice done to some people in the past. I am confident it will be passed in the Parliament soon,” Modi said at a rally in Silchar in Assam’s Barak Valley to loud cheers of the crowd.
The Bengali-majority Barak Valley is made up of three of Assam’s 33 districts. A large number of people from here were left out of the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC). So, he basically tried to reach out to them.
“Mistakes were made in the past when the country was divided and they have to be expiated. Some people had stayed back in some places and if they face difficulties there, it is the duty of Mother India to give shelter to them. Those reposing faith in Mother India will be protected,” he said.
PM Modi addressing a rally in Silchar, Assam: Our govt is also working to get the Citizen Amendment Bill passed in the Parliament. pic.twitter.com/GF2WdSBlBD— ANI (@ANI) January 4, 2019
The Citizenship Bill, if passed, will be in conflict with the NRC and the Assam Accord. The PM’s remarks came amidst widespread protests against the Bill in Assamese-majority Brahmaputra Valley. The Bill’s passage will legitimize the stay of non-Muslim immigrants of Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, who migrated till December 31, 2014, in India.
The NRC is being updated in deference to the Assam Accord. In the Assam Accord of 1985, which the then PM Rajiv Gandhi had signed with the All Assam Students’ Union after a six-year-long bloody Assam Agitation, it was committed that the illegal immigrants, who entered Assam after March 24, 1971, will be detected and deported. The NRC has the same cut-off date.
“Many of you faced hardships during the process of updation of NRC. You have worries about it. But I assure you that no Indian citizen will be left out of the NRC. Efforts are being made to ensure that every individual is heard. We had made several appeals to the Supreme Court regarding NRC documents and it accepted those. As a result, the difficulties of applicants were minimized,” the PM said.
Happy to be among the people of Assam. Watch my speech at Silchar. https://t.co/QQGuOz6Eh0— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 4, 2019
Ostensibly, to make the indigenous communities happy in Brahmaputra Valley, he spoke about Union Cabinet’s decision to constitute a high-level committee towards effective implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which says: “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
Seventy protesting Assamese organisations say the Citizenship Bill poses a threat to Assam’s demography, language and culture.
Earlier in the day, he visited Manipur where he inaugurated several projects such as the Integrated Check Post at Moreh, Dolaithabi Barrage Project, FCI Food Storage Godown at Sawombung, and projects related to water supply and tourism. He dedicated to the nation the 400 kv Double Circuit Silchar-Imphal Line. He also laid the foundation stone of some sports projects.
Addressing people at a programme, Modi paid his homage to the freedom fighters of Manipur. He reminisced that undivided India’s first interim government was established in Manipur’s Moirang and the support which the Azad Hind Fauj had received from people in the Northeast.
Talking about the projects worth over Rs.1500 crore which were either inaugurated or the foundation stone laid, the PM said these would improve the “ease of living” for the people of the state.
Modi said the region was being transformed and projects stuck for decades were being completed. He said the Integrated Check Post at Moreh would facilitate custom clearance, foreign currency exchange, immigration clearance etc.