Assam Assembly Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami on Wednesday said the “hasty passage” of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha has hurt the sentiments of the people of the state, The Assam Tribune reported. Goswami said his conscience “cannot support any act, which is unacceptable to and detrimental to the unity and fraternity of the people of Assam”.
Goswami, a Bharatiya Janata Party member, said both the Centre and the state government should take urgent steps under the Assam Accord to reduce unrest in the state by “honouring the feelings of those who love Assam”.
The Lok Sabha on January 8 passed the bill that seeks to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955 in order to grant citizenship to Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan if they have lived in India for six years. According to the law, they will be granted citizenship even if they do not possess the required documents.
The bill has stoked tension in Assam and led to mass protests. On Wednesday, activists of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad and 68 organisations stormed the Assam Secretariat on GS Road in Guwahati and shouted anti-government slogans, The Telegraph reported. “If Delhi and Dispur don’t understand our democratic way of protest, we will be forced to adopt other means,” Pradip Gogoi, an activist of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chatra Parishad, told the media.
Students Federation of India workers held semi-nude protests and carried out a mock funeral procession of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and BJP leaders Bijoya Chakravarty, Pradan Baruah, Rameshwar Teli, and Ramen Deka.
“This is death of democracy,” SFI Secretary Nirankush Nath said. “The BJP government didn’t listen to the people of Assam. We do not want the bill and we do not want illegal immigrants to be divided in the name of religion. This will ruin the social fabric of Assam.”
The students of Cotton University in Guwahati started an indefinite hunger strike in front of the college’s main gate. This came a day after they started an indefinite class boycott. The Cotton University Students’ Union also held a meeting with student bodies of 12 other colleges to decide on a plan of protests against the bill.
Meanwhile, the Coordination Committee of Tribal Organisations in Assam has called a 24-hour strike starting 5 am on January 11 against The Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Amendment Bill, 2019, which seeks to designate six ethnic groups in Assam as Scheduled Tribes. The organisation alleged that the Centre and state governments have “hatched a plot to eliminate the genuine tribal people” in the state. Adivasis communities were not consulted before this bill was passed, the organisation added.
The Asom Gana Parishad, an ally of the BJP, pulled out of the coalition earlier this week in protest against the Citizenship Bill. Three Asom Gana Parishad state ministers quit on Wednesday.