Assam: Indigenous People Fear of Being Reduced to Minority?

Story highlights

  • NDA government has proposed to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan
  • The political parties, student bodies and citizens in Assam have once again expressed the fear that the indigenous communities would get reduced into a minority
  • The Left and Democratic Alliance (LDM) which comprises of the CPI(M), CPI and other non-Congress non-BJP parties of the state accused that the BJP-led government at the Centre is trying to grant citizenship on the basis of religion

While the NDA government has proposed to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the political parties, student bodies and citizens in Assam have once again expressed the fear that the indigenous communities would get reduced into a minority.

Samujjal Bhattacharyya, the chief advisor of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), while speaking to the media on Sunday said, “Assam will be the worst affected because while a large number of Hindus from Bangladesh have already illegally entered the state in the past several decades, more would come and seek to stay here, in the process causing a further damage to the state’s demography and reduce the Assamese and other indigenous communities into a minority”.

                                 Also Read: Assam Health Minister in Trouble Again, Quipped about Assam History

CIVIC BODIES TO LAUNCH AGITATIONS AGAINST THE CENTER

The All Assam Students Union (AASU) that embodies 28 student units which represent various indigenous communities of the state, has also threatened to launch an agitation against the Centre trying to force the Bill on Assam.  Bhattacharyya further added, “Assam has already taken enough burden of people from the neighbouring country. Moreover, the BJP-led government had come to power in the state on the promise of protecting the identity and interests of the indigenous communities”.

The AASU leader also pointed out,while the NDA had referred the Bill in 2016 to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), the Bill was never introduced to Assam to get the assesment by the people here.  He said, “The JPC took views of the AASU, but not of other stakeholders including political parties and citizens”.

It must be noted that an ally of BJP, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has strongly opposed the Bill. Atul Bora, the AGP President, who happens to be one of the ministers in BJP-led Sonowal Government said, “The AGP is clear in its stand againt this Bill that would render the Assam Accord meaningless and directly affect the identity of Assamese and other indigenous communities of the state”. On the other hand, the Asom Yuva Parishad (AYP) party’s youth wing has warned that Assam would burn if the Bill would get passed.

The Left and Democratic Alliance (LDM) which comprises of the CPI(M), CPI and other non-Congress non-BJP parties of the state accused that the BJP-led government at the Centre is trying to grant citizenship on the basis of religion, and said that Assam would be the state that would have the worst effect on it. LDM convenor Debeswar Bhattacharyya said, “The Centre must understand the gravity of the situation because all groups, parties, organisations and socio-cultural organisations in Assam, barring the BJP are opposed to it”.

The citizens of Assam have also jumped into the debate of not getting this bill passed. A group of citizens which includes the leading intellectual and former Gauhati University professor Hiren Gohain has asked all groups and parties cutting across ideologies to stand united against the Center’s move. The lead said, “This Bill will endanger language and culture of Assam and change the state’s demography once for all”.

The opposition party in Assam, Congress party on its part has asked chief minister Sonowal to make his stand clear on the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Ripun Bora, the APCC president said, “Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal should immediately make his stand clear as to whether he really supports the Bill that will facilitate settlement of lakhs of Hindu migrants in Assam. He had come to power on the promise of protecting the identity of the Assamese and other indigenous communities”.

On the issue and concern of the people of Assam, the BJP’s state spokesperson Rupam Goswami said, “Our party has been clear since the beginning that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and Christians forced to leave the neighbouring countries should be given shelter in India. The notion that is being spread that crores of Hindus from Bangladesh will land in Assam is unfounded”.

                                       Also Read: Anna Hazare to Start NE Visit from Assam and Arunachal

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