Prominent citizens of Assam Saturday described as "unconstitutional" the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 and appealed that care should be taken that attention was not diverted from the "non-violent democratic struggle" against it.
The 22 signatories of the appeal included litterateur Hiren Gohain, noted filmmaker Jahnu Barua, senior journalist Manjit Mahanta, Director General of Police and Sahitya Akademi awardee Harekrishna Deka and academicians Udayditya Bharali and Dinesh Baishya.
The Narendra Modi led government's attempt to get the Bill passed in both the houses of Parliament is an attempt to create a rift between the Assamese and Bengalis in the state and also to bring a divide among its different indigenous communities, they alleged.
"The government and fundamental organisations are trying to forcefully enact the (Citizenship) Bill and a spontaneous movement against it has been launched across the region.
"We must be, however, very careful that there is no violence as it will divert attention from our democratic struggle," the appeal said.
Assam and the entire North East have come out spontaneously and unitedly to oppose the "unconstitutional Bill" but the ruling BJP and Hindutva organisations are making all out efforts to weaken the movement against it, it said.
The signatories said that some miscreants had attacked BJP offices in some parts of the state and these incidents are being used to malign the "non-violent and democratic movement against the Bill", the appeal said.
Several organisations across the state and North East are participating in the struggle against the Bill. "We appeal to all organisations and people to remain alert and maintain a strict vigil against inimical forces so that no untoward incidents take place and our movement is not labelled as violent, as attempted by the ruling government and certain fundamental forces," it said.
Among the signatories are senior journalists Haidor Hussain, Ajit Kumar Bhuyan, Adip Phukan, retired IAS officer Jyotiprasad Saikia,and former MLA Holiram Terang.
A sedition case was filed by Assam Police against Mahanta for certain remarks made at a protest meeting against the Citizenship Bill and the Gauhati High Court had granted him bail on Friday. It had also granted interim relief to Hiren Gohain and to RTI activist Krishak Mukti Sangram Ssmiti leader Akhil Gogoi in the case.
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