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AASU has filed petition in SC challenging amended Citizenship Act: Samujjal Bhattacharya

Bhattacharya also criticised President Ram Nath Kovind for his assent to the Citizenship Amendment Bill on Thursday night within days of the passage of the controversial legislation in Parliament.

Published: 13th December 2019 04:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th December 2019 05:40 PM   |  A+A-

Police fire teargas shells to disperse protesters during their clashes as they march against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in Guwahati Thursday Dec. 12 2019. (Photo | PTI)

Police fire teargas shells to disperse protesters during their clashes as they march against the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2019 in Guwahati Thursday Dec. 12 2019. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

GUWAHATI: All Assam Students Union(AASU) has on Friday filed a petition in Supreme Court challenging the amended Citizenship Act, its chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said.

Bhattacharya, who was addressing a meeting here amidst the indefinite curfew, hit out at the BJP top leadership for "betraying" the people of Assam.

He also criticised President Ram Nath Kovind for his assent to the Citizenship Amendment Bill on Thursday night within days of the passage of the controversial legislation in Parliament.

"This is very unfortunate," Bhattacharya said.

"I am happy to tell you that Supreme Court today registered our case. Now our legal battle will start. Simultaneously, our peaceful democratic protest will continue till the Act is repealed," he said.

He said the people of Assam does not trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi anymore as he had betrayed them by welcoming illegal Bangladeshis.

"Modi had promised to deport all illegal immigrants after May 16, 2014. He did not send back a single illegal Bangladeshi, instead, he is now welcoming them," Bhattacharya, who also the adviser to North East Students Organisation, said.

The Assam Accord is a "national commitment" and it was discussed in Parliament before getting constitutional validity.

"How can you (BJP) dismiss it by bringing in CAB? After the Accord was signed, BJP leaders like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L K Advani had welcome it," he said.

The organisation on Friday also accused Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal of "surrendering before the Delhi leadership" and vowed to continue a "non-violent mass movement" against the contentious legislation.

Bhattacharya also claimed that President Ram Nath Kovind has "violated the Constitution" by giving assent to the "communal bill", which was passed by the Parliament on Wednesday.

ALSO READ | Centre, state should make their stand clear on Chakma-Hajong refugees: AAPSU on Citizenship Act

"Our stand is clear. We will not accept, never accept the new law. The MPs have voted in favour of the bill but people of Assam have rejected it through a mass movement," he told PTI.

Bhattacharya, who is the key person mobilising people across Assam against the controversial legislation, said the only way to fight "this injustice" is through a struggle and fight which has to be non-violent and disciplined.

"Violence has to stop. There is no place for violence in protests. Some people are trying to give a colour of violence. If someone indulges in violence, the government will get the opportunity to end the movement. We appeal to people to stop violence. All protesters should be guarded against violence. Otherwise, we will not be successful. It has to be a non-violent movement," he said.

Two persons were killed in police firing after frenzied mobs blocked roads in different parts of Assam, burned discarded tyres and menaced commuters by bludgeoning their vehicles with sticks and stones.

Two railway stations were torched while houses of several legislators, including the private residence of Sonowal, were attacked by mobs.

It was AASU, which led a non-violent agitation against illegal immigrants in 1979-85 and the movement culminated with the signing of the Assam Accord on August 15, 1985.

Bhattacharya slammed chief minister Sonowal, his once comrade-in-arms, for his support to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, which got presidential assent on Thursday night.

"Sonowal reached the post of chief minister through this type of movement. He should not forget that. Unfortunately, he has surrendered before the Delhi leadership. He has forgotten to speak for the people of Assam. Sonowal has gone silent. Infact, he is trying to misguide people. I want to tell him, don't provoke people," he said.

In 1990s, AASU was led by Sonowal and Bhattacharya as president and general secretary respectively.

The AASU chief adviser claimed that President Kovind has "violated the Constitution" by giving assent to the "communal bill in a hurry".

"The President gave his assent in a hurry. He has violated the Constitution because a communal bill has been given assent. It is a legislation which violates the Assam Accord. We don't expect such a move from the President. It is very unfortunate, it is unconstitutional," he said.

According to the Act, members of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian communities who have come from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014 and faced religious persecution there will not be treated as illegal immigrants but will be given Indian citizenship.

Senior citizens, students, artists, college teachers, lawyers and people from all walks of life gathered at the Assam Engineering Institute Playground and shouted slogans against the ammended Citizenship Act.

Many of the protestors, including Assamese filmstars, singers, musicians, litterateurs, took part in the ten-hour fast by AASU at the venue.

AASU President Dipanka Kumar Nath told the gathering that the agitation against the legislation on citizenship will continue "though efforts are being made by the government to repress it".

"The government has brought in police officials from outside to repress our movement.

But we are not afraid and our protest will continue till the CAB was withdrawn," he added.

"We warn the government not to bring police from outside to scare us," he said, adding the people of the state should be prepared for a long fight.

G P Singh, who was the inspector general of police with the National Investigating Agency was brought in from Delhi and made the Assam Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) on Thursday.

"The people have the responsibility to ensure that the agitation is not weakened by lumpen elements and by vested interests," he said and appealed to them not to agitate after 5 pm as antisocials take advantage to foment trouble then.

"We must continue with our democratic protests in a non-violent and disciplined manner," he said.

Among prominent personalities who attended the protest were several octogenarians including eminent singer Sudakshina Sarma, sister of Dada Saheb Phalke winner Bhupen Hazarika, litterateur Ratna Ojha, who made it to the venue in a wheelchair, besides several residents of an old age home who carried placards with anti-amended Citizenship Act slogans.

Assamese youth icon and singer Zubeen Garg, actors Jatin Bora and Ravi Sarma, who have announced their resignation from BJP, actress Barasha Rani Bishaya, singer Manas Robin, editors of several Assamese newspapers and weeklies were among others who were present on the occasion.

Also present were Assamese film stars Kapil Bora and Zerifa Wahid.


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