Hundreds of people protested on Saturday in Assam against the Centre’s proposed move to grant citizenship rights to persecuted religious minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, allows persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from the three countries to obtain Indian citizenship.
Over 200 people protested under the banner of the Northeast Students’ Organisation against the move at Dighalipukhuri area of Guwahati on Saturday, News18 reported. However, the protestors were from eight different student organisations in seven states.
Northeast Students Organisation chief Sammujjwal Bhattacharyya said the organisation would not allow the northeast to become a “dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis”. ““We warn the Narendra Modi-led government against this bill. If required, tens of thousands will be seen protesting in the streets against it,” he added.
Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad protesters blocked the National Highway 37 in Guwahati for four hours. They said the bill would breach the terms of the 1985 Assam Accord.
Meanwhile, the Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party in the state, said it would pull out of the coalition if the bill was passed, The Hindu reported. “We will organise the signature campaign across Assam till May 30,” Asom Gana Parishad President Atul Bora said. “We are against the bill that will threaten the existence of the indigenous peoples, and will not hesitate to pull out of the government if it is passed.”
The Assam government published the first draft of the National Register of Citizens – a list of verified Indian citizens – at midnight on January 1. The list verifies 1.9 crore people, of 3.29 crore who applied, as legal citizens of India. The Supreme Court is monitoring the process of updating the register.