It's Barak Valley versus Brahmaputra Valley over citizenship amendment bill


"If I can not protect the people's interests, there is no point to my staying on as chief minister", Sonowal said at an informal interaction with editors and senior journalists of the state here to seek opinion on what should be done to address the continuing discontent against the NDA government's proposal to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955. "People want we should quit the government", said Mahanta. "Our country is secular, you can not divide it on religious lines", said AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Mahanta.

Saikia emphasized that the Chief Minister needed to take the initiative in this matter because he was the Leader of the House and dates for Assembly sessions and list of business, etc. are fixed as per his advice to the Governor and Speaker.

A key amendment in the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to people without valid documents from minority communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India. The Accord marked the end of anti-foreigner movement - anyone who entered the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, would be considered an illegal immigrant, irrespective of their faith. "The migrants should be distributed across India and Assam should not be made to bear their burden", he said.

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A day before the JPC was to begin its day-long hearing, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) leader Akhil Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati, "Will Assamese people become minorities in their own state?"

Mr Sonowal said there are allegations against him that he was not allowing the parliamentary committee to visit Assam.

In 2015 and 2016, the government issued two notifications exempting certain groups of illegal migrants from provisions of the 1920 and the 19246 Acts.

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"North East is not the dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis and the Bill is a threat to the identify of our indigenous people", he said while making it clear that the region can not take the load of Bangladeshis beyond 1971 be it Hindu or Muslim Bangladeshis.

Speaking to media persons after meeting the Committee North East Students' Organisation (NESO) Chairman Samuel Jyrwa asserted that the organization strongly opposed the Bill which, if passed, would drastically affect the indigenous population of the North East region.

Protests were staged against the Bill in front of the venue where the JPC hearing was held as people feared that it would breach the clauses of the Assam Accord. The minister urged the political parties to not politicize the bill. The bill violates the basic structure of the Constitution and Centre's move to amend the Citizenship Bill is only appeased the Hindu voters from Bangladesh and other neighboring countries.

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Meanwhile, in Barak Valley, organisations representing Bengali-speaking Hindus are infuriated over protests in the Brahmaputra Valley.