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Anti-citizenship bill protesters hit Assam streets

Press Trust of India  |  Guwahati 

Protesters took to the street across Assam against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Thursday as the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti said it would move the Supreme Court if the Bill is passed in Parliament.

Workers of several social and youth organisations joined the KMSS in a massive rally here demanding that the Bill be scrapped, while opposition Congress MLAs demonstrated against it in the Assembly premises.

The All Assam Students' Union (AASU), the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and others also took out rallies across the state denouncing the Bill which is likely to be introduced in the Lok Sabha on December 9 and taken up for passage the next day.

Accusing the ruling BJP at the Centre and the state of sacrificing the sentiment of the Assamese people at the cost of vote bank politics, KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi said, "If the CAB is not scrapped, the people will overthrow the Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government in 2021 (when Assam goes to polls)".

The CAB 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.

"If the 1.9 crore Hindus of Bangladesh come to Assam within a few years and attain Indian citizenship under CAB, the existence of the Assamese language will be threatened and the jobs and land will be taken away by them depriving the indigenous people," Akhil Gogoi said.

"If the Bill is passed by Parliament, the KMSS will move the Supreme Court. The movements on the street will also continue. Assam will never accept the CAB," Gogoi, also an RTI activist, said.

Condemning state minister and Asom Gana Parishad president Atul Bora's comment that Assam has to accept a few thousand Bangladeshis, the RTI activist threatened to start a movement against the party if it does not change its stand in favour of the indigenous people.

Gogoi addressed the protesters during a sit-in demonstration near the Assembly which is in session and the adjacent state secretariat. The KMSS and others then took out a procession along the arterial Guwahati-Shillong Road.

Leaders and supporters of the KMSS coming from other parts of the state to join the protest programme here were detained by the police at various places.

The opposition Congress MLAs led by their legislature party leader Debabrata Saikia also demonstrated in the Assembly premises, holding banners and shouting slogans opposing the Bill.

Members of the AASU and 30 other indigenous ethnic organisations also took out motorcycle rallies in Jorhat, Golaghat and other parts of the state.

AIUDF workers staged a rally opposing the Bill in Nalbari district and burnt effigies of Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Assam Chief Minister Sonowal.

Dissension in the ruling AGP was noticed when leaders of Tezpur unit told reporters that the party's grass root workers did not support the amendment as it was against the interest of the indigenous people's existence and language.

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

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, December 05 2019. 20:05 IST
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