Several bodies announce anti-CAB stir in Assam; BJP ally AGP speaks in two voices

Guwahati, Dec 4 (PTI) Several organisations of Assam including opposition parties on Wednesday disapproved of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill that has got the Union Cabinet nod and warned of widespread agitation in the state.

Besides political parties such as the Congress and the AIUDF, organisations like the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and premier literary body Asam Sahitya Sabha (ASS) announced that they will launch agitations against the Bill till it is withdrawn.

The Bill seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, in order to grant Indian nationality to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians, who come to India due to religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan even if they don't possess proper documents.

The indigenous people of the Northeastern states fear that the entry of these people will endanger their identity and livelihood.

The ruling BJP's alliance partner Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) appears to be divided on the issue with its founding president and signatory to the Assam Accord Prafulla Kumar Mahanta opposing the Bill, while its current chief and state Agriculture Minister Atul Bora coming out in its support.

Mahanta, a former chief minister, said no discussion was held within the party on the Bill and 'being a regional party, we cannot go against the interests of the indigenous people'.

He claimed that the views expressed by Bora was his personal and 'he wants to further his own vested interests'.

Bora said the Centre has the requisite number of MPs and if 'they want to introduce the Bill, the AGP cannot do anything. The Union home minister has assured us that the interests of the indigenous people will not be compromised'.

Bora and two other AGP ministers had earlier resigned from the government on the issue of the citizenship amendment bill (CAB) which could not be passed in Rajya Sabha during the BJP's previous term. They later rejoined the Sarbananda Sonowal government in the state.

Veteran Congress leader Tarun Gogoi said the CAB must be withdrawn as it against the interest of not only the people of Assam but the entire country.

'The Congress will move the Supreme Court as we believe that the CAB is unconstitutional and against the spirit of secularism. There cannot be division on the basis of religion, caste or creed,' the former chief minister said.

Claming that the CAB violates the basic feature of the Constitution, the Assam Accord and a section of the Citizenship Act, the AIUDF has written to Union Home Minister Amit Shah urging him withdraw it.

The AASU and the AJYCP, that held talks with Shah in New Delhi last night on the CAB, have rejected saying it is 'unconstitutional' and will launch widespread agitation against the Bill till it was withdrawn.

'We cannot accept the CAB at any cost and we had made this clear to the Home Minister last night. The BJP government at the Centre and the state has left us with no choice but to agitate as we cannot be second-class citizens in our own land,' AASU Advisor Sammujjal Bhattacharya said.

AJYCP leader Palash Changmai also asserted that the CAB was not acceptable in any form.

'We urge all the organisations of the state who are opposed to the CAB to protest against it till it is withdrawn.

We cannot accept any more Bangladeshis - Hindus or Muslims - in our state anymore,' he added.

KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi also called for a united fight against the CAB saying it will 'reduce us to non-entities in our own land' by finishing off our linguistic and cultural identities.

Asam Sahitya Sabha, the premier literary organisation of the state, has also announced an agitation programme on December six in all its offices.

'We shall also send a memorandum to the prime minister through all deputy commissioners of the state demanding its withdrawal,' Sabha President Parmananda Rajbongshi said here.