GUWAHATI: Even as Union Home Minister Amit Shah is in the process of holding discussions with stakeholders to allay their apprehensions regarding the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, political and civil groups from the Northeast are far from convinced. After a discussion with Shah, Rajya Sabha member from Assam Biswajit Daimary had said that he was satisfied with the clarifications which the Home Minister made on the Citizenship Bill.
But, various organisations fear the Bill’s tweaked version would be more dangerous. “The Citizenship Bill will be more dangerous for Assam if some states of the Northeast, which are protected by Inner Line Permit and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, are kept outside its purview,” leader of peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee, Akhil Gogoi, said. He said Assam and Tripura would have to bear the burden of lakhs of illegal immigrants if the Bill becomes a law.
“Quoting Shah, Daimary said Clause 6 of the Assam Accord — which says “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards” shall be provided to “protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people” — will be implemented prior to the Bill’s passage. However, under this clause, there are no political and economic safeguards for Assam,” Gogoi said.
The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) reiterated its resolve to keep opposing the “religion-based” Bill which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to “persecuted” non-Muslim immigrants. “We ask the Union Home Minister as to how the government will know if people were religiously persecuted. What machine does it have to detect persecution? Who will give the data on the people who came to Assam before December 31, 2014?” it asked.
The Congress, too, criticised the Centre’s move. Party leader Jairam Ramesh told journalists that the Congress would take into confidence all like-minded parties in putting up a fight against the Citizenship Bill as well as the proposed country-wide NRC. He alleged that by solely talking about the two issues, the Centre was trying to divert people’s attention from India’s precarious economic condition.