GUWAHATI: The protests against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in Assam got intensified on Wednesday after the Union cabinet gave its nod to it.
Activists belonging to various organisations, including the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), took out rallies and burnt the effigies of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
They are enraged that the Centre will get the Bill passed in Parliament ignoring the sentiments of people in Assam and the Northeast.
The AASU and peasants’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samitee (KMSS) is spearheading the protests.
After meeting Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday night, Samujjal Bhattacharya, who is the chief advisor to AASU, said the students’ body would not accept the Bill in any form.
He said the Bill, if passed, would violate the Assam Accord which the Centre had signed with the AASU in 1985 at the end of six-year-long bloody Assam Agitation.
Clause 5 of the Accord says the immigrants, who migrated after March 24, 1971, will be detected and deported.
“Assam is not the grazing ground of illegal immigrants. The state has already borne the burden of lakhs of immigrants who came till March 24, 1971, and it cannot take further burden,” Bhattacharya said.
He said the Bill would be a serious threat to the land, language, culture and identity of the indigenous people.
The KMSS announced that it would launch a mass agitation on Thursday in protest against the Bill.
“The tweaked version of the Bill exempting some states and areas of the Northeast protected by inner line permit and the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution will be more dangerous for Assam. We appeal to the people to come out and speak up against it,” RTI activist and KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said.
Despite the protests, the BJP is least worried. Its belief that the development will hardly affect its prospects in the 2021 Assam elections stems from the results of this year’s Lok Sabha elections in which it managed to win 10 of the state’s 14 seats.
Even then, there were massive protests against the Bill which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to “persecuted” non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who migrated to India till December 31, 2014.