Several groups across Assam protested against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, on Monday, PTI reported. A few demonstrators burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh.
The bill, a pet project of the Bharatiya Janata Party, aims to make certain crucial changes to the Citizenship Act of 1955. If passed, it would make undocumented immigrants – Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis – from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh eligible for citizenship. It would also ease the terms of naturalisation for individuals from these groups.
The agitators shouted slogans against the bill, saying they would not bear the “burden of foreigners”. They criticised the BJP-led state government for supporting amendments that would “destroy the ethnicity, culture and language of the local indigenous people of Assam”, they alleged.
The Asom Yuba Chatra Parishad, the Gorkha Students’ Union, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, the All Assam Adivasi Students’ Union, and the All Boro Students’ Union were among the groups that protested. A number of agitators of the All Assam Sutia Students’ Union were detained after they blocked railway tracks at Sarupathar, PTI reported. The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad burnt effigies of Modi, Singh and Sonowal at Nalbari.
The protestors submitted memoranda on the bill addressed to the prime minister to the deputy commissioners in their respective districts.
“There is a continuous people’s movement against the bill,” All Assam Students’ Union chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya told reporters. “Organisations, individuals and various other forums have united as the proposed bill will cause a great damage to Assam’s political future and the survival of its indigenous people, their identity, culture and land. The Centre should immediately take steps to withdraw the bill from Parliament.”