Amidst protests, PM Modi defends Citizenship Bill, says will not harm interests of North East people
The Prime Minister in his Assam rally stressed on the difference between those who forcefully entered the country and those who were 'forced to flee their homes to save their lives due to their faith.
GUWAHATI: On a day protestors called a 12-hour Assam bandh and waved black flags at different places protesting his visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi defended the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to grant Indian citizenship to immigrants belonging to six persecuted communities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who migrated till December 31, 2014.
“We are committed to protecting the interests of Assam. Citizenship will be given to immigrants only after necessary examination and recommendation by the state government. No immigrant will automatically become an Indian citizen,” he said at a rally at Changsari near Guwahati.
The PM insisted on differentiating the immigrants saying while one section fled to India in the face of atrocities and persecution, the other section infiltrated with the sole intention of capturing the country’s resources.
He clarified that the Bill’s proposed amendment is not meant for the immigrants living in Assam and the Northeast alone but for many others, who had migrated from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan to save their lives, and are now living in different parts of India.
“The immigrants (read Muslim immigrants) have no place in Assam or other parts of India. We have to make the country immigrants-free. We had signed the land swap deal with Bangladesh to prevent infiltration. We are working towards sealing the border,” Modi said.
He alleged that rumours were being circulated by elements on the issue of Citizenship Bill. His oblique reference was to the propaganda that two crore Bengali Hindus will migrate to Assam if the Bill is passed.
Without taking any name, the PM said, “People destroying the country are spreading lies for their benefit. We have to know them. Those sitting in air conditioned rooms in Delhi and opposing me in Parliament will get an idea of the mood of people in Assam if they see a picture of this mammoth rally. The NDA is fully committed to protect the rights of Assam”.
I bow to Assam’s great culture. Addressing a rally in Amingaon. Watch. https://t.co/pjRoUN9AeO— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 9, 2019
The prime minister also said that the BJP is committed to implementing the 36-year-old Assam Accord and a committee set up on the implementation of its Clause 6 is a step in that direction.
The government wants to make Assam the oil and gas hub of the country and in the last four years projects worth Rs 14,000 crore have been completed, he said.
The prime minister peppered his speech with sentences in Assamese, paid rich tributes to the state's icons Srimanata Sankardeva, Madhavdeva, Azan Fakir, Chaolung Sukapha, Lachit Barphukan, Gopinath Bordoloi and Bhupen Hazarika.
He said the previous governments "failed" to honour these icons and it was the BJP government which took the initiative of conferring the Bharat Ratna on Assam's first chief minister Gopinath Bordoloi during Atal Bihari Vajpayee's term and now to music legend Hazarika.
Some organisations opposed to Citizenship Bill, who had called the bandh protesting the PM’s visit, vented their ire by waving black flags. Black flags were waved at him on Friday when he arrived in Guwahati.
PM in Assam: To rid Assam&country of infiltrators we've always strengthened voice of ppl. That is why we did chitmahal agreement & are working towards completely sealing India-Bangladesh border. We implemented NRC under supervision of SC that earlier govts were hesitating to do. pic.twitter.com/6TpoqkBntk— ANI (@ANI) February 9, 2019
On the day, Modi laid the foundation stone of North East Gas Grid which will lead to uninterrupted supply of natural gas across the Northeast. He inaugurated a gas processing plant in Tinsukia and an LPG capacity augmentation of mounted storage vessel in Guwahati. He also laid the foundation stone of NRL bio-refinery at Numaligarh and the 729-km long Barauni-Guwahati gas pipeline.
During his whirlwind tour of the Northeast, the PM also visited Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura to either inaugurate or lay the foundation stone of some projects. In Arunachal, opposition Congress had also staged a protest against Citizenship Bill.
Modi laid the foundation stone of a Greenfield airport at Hollongi near Itanagar and a tunnel in Sela which will reduce travel time to the India-China border town of Tawang by an hour. He launched a new dedicated DD channel “DD Arun Prabha” for the state and dedicated the 110 MW Pare Hydroelectric Plant to the nation. He also laid the foundation stone for a permanent campus of Film and Television Institute of India at Jote and inaugurated the upgraded Tezu Airport.
In Tripura, he dedicated the Garjee-Belonia railway line to the nation by unveiling a plaque. He also inaugurated the new complex of the Tripura Institute of Technology and unveiled the statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport in Agartala.
(With PTI inputs)