JAGIROAD: Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday said the indigenous people of the state, whose interests are protected by the Assam Accord, will be not be affected by granting of Indian citizenship to a "small number" of persecuted people.
Sonowal, while addressing BJP's 'Peace and Progress March' in Morigaon district of Assam which was also attended by leaders of its alliance partners AGP and BPF, said the state government is committed to protecting the land rights, culture and language of the indigenous people.
"Congress could not provide security to the small number of people who fled their country due to religious persecution. Now, they are being given an opportunity to get Indian citizenship by applying under the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019.:
"These people will not have any negative impact on the indigenous people. Do not get misled by the misinformation being spread that the BJP-led government will bring in foreigners and settle them on the surplus lands in villages and tea gardens," Sonowal said.
Noting that only a negligible number of foreigners will get Indian citizenship under the Act, he said the BJP governments at the Centre and the state will ensure that the interests of the indigenous people are protected under Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.
Sonowal said the Clause provides constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards for protecting, preserving and promoting the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.
He said the BJP never worked against the interests of the Assamese people and the party had even supported the six-year-long anti-foreigners Assam Movement.
The state government will also reach out to the people to dispel their misunderstandings about CAA, he said.
Sonowal accused the Congress of settling "lakhs of foreigners" in Assam during its rule and wondered why there were no movements against foreigners then like what the state is witnessing now.
Protests against the Act, mainly spearheaded by student bodies AASU and AJYCP, are continuing across the Brahmaputra Valley.
Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, speaking at the rally, said the BJP will win the 2021 Assembly election in the state with the votes of the indigenous people.
He said the people who would be granted citizenship under CAA are already settled in different parts of the state since the 1970s.
"We will give blood for the development of Assam but will never allow its progress to get halted. We are with the people and will try to solve their problems," he said.
The BJP-led government in the state has remained committed to preserving the culture and heritage of Assam, he added.