'Citizenship Amendment Bill' passage marked by violent bandh in Assam

'Citizenship Amendment Bill' passage marked by violent bandh in Assam

"Dipankar Nath, the president of AASU, which had led the six-year-long Assam Movement against illegal immigrants, said, "Despite wide opposition to it, the BJP government at the Centre has undemocratically imposed the bill on us as they want to win the (Lok Sabha) election by taking the votes of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants". Assam's people will never allow this bill to be implemented.

The Bill seeks to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. "They were determined to pass the bill so we chose to break the alliance", Bora said.

IPFT had raised a case for a revision of the citizens' register to safeguard the state's demography, despite Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb's assertion that there is no need for it. Reports of a rift in the alliance surfaced hereafter, with the IPFT reportedly going back to its secessionist demand for a separate state (Twiparaland) for the state tribals.

AGP president Atul Bora said it was very unfortunate that the Centre and BJP didn't listen to the people of Assam. "After this, there is no question of remaining in the alliance", Bora said in New Delhi after meeting the home minister.

In the 126-member Assam Assembly, the AGP has just 14 MLAs, while the ruling coalition, which now comprises the BJP with 60 MLAs and Bodoland People's Front (BPF) with 12 MLAs, has a comfortable majority.

All ministers and heads of corporations of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), which announced on Monday that it was ending its two-year-old alliance with the BJP, would be quitting formally on Wednesday. These states feel that the Bill needs to be opposed in "a bid to save their indigenous communities from extinction".

The letter to Shah, which was also signed by Mahanta, said, "It is reliably learnt that the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in spite of our protest, including the protests resorted to by various organisations of indigenous people of Assam before the Joint Parliamentary Committee, is to be placed before Parliament".

Large sections of people in Assam and other northeastern states have been protesting against the bill, saying it would nullify the 1985 Assam Accord under which any foreign national, irrespective of religion, who had entered the state after 1971 should be deported.

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"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues".

The Congress said many states have opposed the bill and it should be sent to a select committee.

The bill seeks to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014.

"We have identified the stone pelters by seeing video footage and they will be booked soon", Assam police official Surjeet Singh Panesar said.

The Congress, TMC, CPI (M) and a few other parties were steadfastly opposing the bill claiming citizenship can not be given on basis of religion, as India is secular.

"The beneficiaries of Citizenship Amendment Bill can reside in any state of the country". TMC will be protesting against the JPC which ignored all amendments suggested by opposition parties and submitted a report without holding any meetings in the last few months except three over the last two weeks.

Though the AGP leadership is tight-lipped on their next step, they said that opposing the Bill and preventing it from becoming an Act was the ultimate goal at the moment.