Chanting “Aah Oi Aah, Ulai Aah” (Come out, Come out all) and “Joi Aai Asom” slogans, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) on Wednesday took out torch rallies across the state against the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the Centre’s plan to re-introduce it in the ongoing winter session. Together with 30 ethnic organisations demonstrating anti-Bill sentiments, hundreds of AASU protestors took to the streets in Guwahati, Upper and Lower Assam districts, challenging the government’s plan to facilitate Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Sammujjwal Bhattacharyya, the chief advisor of All Assam Students' Union and NESO, said they will not allow Northeast to be a 'dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis'.
"We are never going to accept this Bill. It is communal, against the interests of the indigenous Assamese people, it violates the provisions of the Assam Accord, and proves that the government is a saviour of Bangladeshis. We will not accept the divisive policies of the government in the name of religion," said Bhattacharyya.
Various ethnic groups in Brahmaputra valley manifesting anti-bill sentiments have come together for indigenous rights. While peasant organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) took out an anti-bill rally in Golaghat district, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP) held demonstrations in Digboi, Tinsukia and Upper Assam districts.
Protesters said that the Bill would breach the clauses of the 'historic' Assam Accord, which states that all illegal immigrants who infiltrated after 1971 from Bangladesh, irrespective of their religion, have to be deported.
“When the Chief Ministers of other Northeastern states have voiced their resentment against the Bill, what stops Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal from taking a stand?” an AJYCP protestor asked.
RTI activist Akhil Gogoi, leader of the social organisation Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad (KMSS) earlier expressed concern that the population of Assam would increase as “1.9 crore Bangladeshis would come to the state after the legislation came into force”.
The Union government said the proposed Bill will have December 31, 2014, as the cut-off date and anyone arriving after this will not be granted citizenship. Home Minister Shah had said the government will not let a single ‘ghuspethi’ (infiltrator) live in Assam or any other part of the country. NEDA convenor Himanta Biswa Sarma also said that the Bill “will not override the existing provisions of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution or the provisions of the Inner Line Permit (ILP)".
The ILP is an official document issued by the state governments that allows inward travel of a citizen into certain areas for a limited period. It is currently in force in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram.
Earlier, the Lok Sabha had passed the CAB on January 8, but it had lapsed after failing to clear the Rajya Sabha hurdle in the Budget session of Parliament, the last before the general elections.