Meghalaya: Citizenship (Amendment) Bill faces strong opposition at JPC meet

Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in Guwahati on Thursday

"The JPC Chairman had hinted the Committee will return to Assam to further take the people's opinion on the Bill".

Leader of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly Debabrata Saikia has urged Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, to advise the Governor and Speaker of the Assam Legislative Assembly to summon a special session of the House to pass a pending resolution relating to upholding the provisions of the Assam Accord, 1985, particular Clause 6 of the pact. That is why we will sincerely work for safeguarding the interests of the people of Assam.

It was Sonowal who had gone to the Supreme Court much before he became the chief minister to get the IMDT Act scrapped as it was not much successful, the minister said.

"It is my duty as the chief minister to take all with me and not take decisions on my own".

The 16-member JPC headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agarwal had visited the state from May 7 to May 9 to elicit views from stakeholders on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.

According to Laishram Peter, the Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal. They said there can not be any change to the cut-off date - March 25, 1971 - and those who came later have to be deported, a demand that has kept the pot simmering for close to three decades now.

This implies that illegal migrants belonging to these religions will not be deported or imprisoned for being in India without valid documents.

Mr Sonowal said there are allegations against him that he was not allowing the parliamentary committee to visit Assam. Already the relation between local Assamese and Hindus of other linguistic groups are not cordial due to their dominance over Assamese people in jobs and business If Assam has to take the burden of several lakh Hindu Bangladesh there will be more friction and social unrest in the state.

Speaking to media persons after meeting the Committee North East Students' Organisation (NESO) Chairman Samuel Jyrwa asserted that the organization strongly opposed the Bill which, if passed, would drastically affect the indigenous population of the North East region.

The JPC's three-day hearing in Assam since Monday saw the State being divided on the issue.

In the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, a majority of the 315 opinions submitted to the JPC were in favour of the Bill, and people carrying placards formed a human chain in its support.

Without taking names, he pilloried some intellectuals with Left lineage saying those who had been critical of the anti-foreigners' agitation of early 1980s are now leading the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

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