Sixteen indigenous groups of Assam today told a joint committee of parliamentarians that the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill will violate the idea of secularism of the Constitution by distinguishing illegal immigrants on the basis of religion.
The groups also said it will threaten the existence of the ethnic communities in the state.
The groups told the Joint Committee on the Bill to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal, that the proposed Bill to grant citizenship to the Hindu Bangladeshis is totally unacceptable to the ethnic communities and the people of Assam.
"The proposed Bill violates the very idea of secularism of our Constitution. The Bangladeshis, the illegal immigrants, must not be differentiated on the basis of religion. All post-1971 illegal immigrants must be expelled irrespective of their religion as per the Assam Accord," All Bodo Students' Union, president, Promod Boro said at a press conference.
Boro said under no circumstances the ethnic communities and the people of Assam will agree with the purpose and content of the proposed Bill.
"The proposed Bill will destroy or exterminate the indigenous ST, SC and other ethnic communities of Assam and will reduce the indigenous people of the state into minorities," he said.
Predicting a "vigorous mass movement" against the proposed Bill, secretary general of the All Assam Tribal Sangha Aditya Khaklari said if it is passed by Parliament, it will disturb the peaceful environment of Assam and will encourage fresh illegal infiltration into the state.
Introduced in the Lok Sabha, the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2016, seeks to allow illegal migrants from certain minority communities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan eligible for Indian citizenship by amending the Citizenship Act of 1955.
It also appeals for the minimum years of residency in India to apply for citizenship to be lessened from at least 11 to six years for such migrants.
The Bill, however, does not extend to illegal Muslim migrants.
The proposed amendments are not acceptable to the indigenous groups from Assam as it contradicts the Assam Accord of 1985, which clearly states that illegal migrants who entered India after March 25, 1971, would be deported irrespective of their religions.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)