GUWAHATI: Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi Sunday said if proper respect is not shown to the Assamese people and the Citizenship Amendment Bill is passed, then "we must have the courage to tell the government that we may consider not staying with India".
Addressing a protest rally against the proposed legislation at Panitola in Assam's Tinsukia district, Gogoi said, "If the government gives us the respect we deserve, we are with the nation but if the sentiments of the indigenous Assamese are ignored and the bill is passed, then each Assamese must have the courage to say that they will not be a part of India."
The proposed legislation seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and many parties and organisations have claimed that it will have an adverse impact on the demography of the sensitive border state.
They said the provisions of the bill will nullify the 1985 Assam Accord, which provides for deportation of all illegal migrants, irrespective of religion, who had entered the state after March 1971.
Gogoi, who has been spearheading the agitation by 70 organisations against the bill, said, "We want to make it clear that if the need and situation arises, Assam must be able to say that they are prepared not to stay with India. If the government respects us, we will stay with India or we will quit."
Several organisations in Mizoram had boycotted the Republic Day celebrations in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
Assam Police had earlier filed a sedition case against Gogoi, Sahitya Akademi winning litterateur Hiren Gohain and senior journalist Manjit Mahanta for making secessionist remarks at a protest meeting in Guwahati.
Meanwhile, BJP workers and All Assam Students' Union (AASU) activists clashed in Nalbari district when the student organisation was protesting against the bill during a bike rally taken out by the saffron party workers to escort Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, who had gone there for the inauguration of a hospital by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The AASU members were protesting with black flags and demanding that the bill be scrapped when they were allegedly stopped and attacked by the BJP workers with stones.
The police brought the situation under control and the students' body has filed a case against the BJP activists at the Ghograpar police station.