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         Citizenship amendment row

         divides people in northeast

                  s many parts of northeast   Logic given by the opposition is that the Indian citizenship
                  India were witnessing
                  series of protest-demon-  cannot be conferred on the basis of religion as it is a secular
                  strations against the Cen- country and if this is done, it would go against the spirit of the
         A tre’s proposed Citizenship
         (Amendment) Bill 2016 for months, a   Constitution, reports nava thakuria
         massive public rally in the outskirt of
         Guwahati showed a different picture.   gion took pledge not to allow New Delhi   ince’s demography.
         Addressing the meeting, which was   to pass the concerned bill. Organized   The protest gained momentum,
         poured by record breaking hundred   by All Assam Students’ Union (AASU)   when the Joint Parliamentary Commit-
         thousand audiences, Prime Minister   along with 30 indigenous groups the   tee (JPC) on the matter had arrived in
         Narendra Modi declared that the Bill   rally on 23 January was followed by a   Guwahati last year for public hearings.
         would be honoured.              torchlight procession in the evening by   A number of indigenous organizations,
           Organised at Changsari locality    Krishak Mukti Sangram Samity (KMSS)   local politicians, intellectuals, media
         under Kamrup district on 9 Febru-  along with 70 other local bodies.  personalities etc assembled on the
         ary 2019, the spectacular gathering    Logic behind the opposition points   venue and raised their voices against
         applaused PM Modi when he termed   out that the Indian citizenship cannot   the Bill.
         the initiative as a moral responsibil-  be conferred on the basis of religion   However, the subsequent hearing
         ity for the government to support the                            in Silchar of Bengali dominated Barak
         asylum seekers from the Muslim domi-                             valley witnessed a different picture as
         nated Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bang-  The move by the           most of the organizations supported
         ladesh who had fled their countries                              the initiative. The valley was reluctant
         because of religious persecutions there.  ruling BJP to amend    to join in the anti-bill protests, when
           However the move by the ruling   the citizenship laws          Lok Sabha passed the Bill on 8 January.
         Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to amend                              Facing extreme public outcries, one
         the citizenship laws in favor of Hindu,  in favor of Hindu,      of BJP’s Assam allies Asom Gana Pari-
         Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian   Sikh, Buddhist, Jain,   shad (AGP) had pulled out of the gov-
         refugees from nearby countries has                               ernment in Dispur. The AGP leaders
         ignited a firestorm in the region. The  Parsi and Christian      claimed that the proposed amendment
         tide against the Union government in   refugees from             would challenge the Assam accord,
         New Delhi has been inspired by the                               signed in 1985 after the culmination of
         arising apprehensions among north-  nearby countries has         six years long movement, which they
         eastern indigenous people that they   ignited a firestorm        don’t prefer.
         might lose many of their rights after the                          The Assam agitation, launched in
         citizenship law is amended.      in the region                   1979 with the demand to detect and
           The region also observed a Bandh                               deport all illegal migrants (read Bang-
         (total shut down) on 8 January pro-                              ladeshi nationals) from the country,
         testing against New Delhi’s adamant    as it is a secular country and if done it   culminated with an accord signed by
         attitude to pass the Bill in Lok Sabha   would go against the spirit of the con-  the agitators with the Centre in pres-
         and prepare placing it in Rajya Sabha.   stitution. The other one, which has been   ence of the then Prime Minister Rajiv
         The opposition to the initiative start-  endorsed by 95% of protesting organi-  Gandhi. Leaders of AASU and now
         ed surfacing in various parts, where    zations, pointed out that Assam had   defunct Asom Gana Sangram Parishad
         Assam’s Brahmaputra valley has taken   already taken the burden of numer-  agreed to accept everyone entering
         the lead for two years now.     ous illegal migrants (read Bangladeshi    Assam prior to 25 March 1971 as legal
           Guwahati recently witnessed a rally   nationals from 1951 to 1971) and it   Indian citizens.
         opposing the Bill where 3,000 strong   should not get more migrants, as it   Need not mention that the move-
         gathering from different parts of the re-  would completely destroy the prov-  ment started with the ultimate goal to

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