Assam Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said on Thursday that his Asom Gana Parishad party was against the idea of granting citizenship on the basis of religion as it was unconstitutional, The Assam Tribune reported.
Even before Assam released the first, “partial” draft of the National Register of Citizens on the midnight of December 31, Assamese groups had suspected that the government was trying to grant citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindu immigrants.
But Bora said his party was firm on its “no compromise” policy when it came to the National Register of Citizens and on not granting citizenship to illegal immigrants in Assam. “We want to reiterate here that it won’t take us a second to resign from the state Cabinet if any compromise is made by the Union government on these core issues,”
The Asom Gana Parishad is an ally of the Bharatiya Janata Party in Assam with two ministers in the Cabinet. Bora made the statements together with Assam Science and Technology Minister Keshab Mahanta.
The president of the Parishad also said his party will continue to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which aims to grant citizenship to immigrants who came to Assam because they were persecuted in neighbouring countries, IANS reported.
Meant to be a roster of all the “genuine” Indian citizens living in Assam, the National Register of Citizens is being updated for the first time since 1951. One of the new list’s stated objectives is to weed out “illegal Bangladeshi immigrants” from Assam.
Going by the terms of the Assam Accord of 1985, those who can prove that they or their ancestors entered the state from outside the country before midnight, March 24, 1971, will be considered a citizen. On March 25, 1971, the Pakistani Army had started operations in Dhaka, marking the start of the Bangladesh War.
More than 68 lakh families, covering over 3.5 crore names, had applied to be included in the register. The first draft contains nearly two crore names verified so far. The Supreme Court is directly monitoring the massive counting exercise.