Sonowal urges peace after JPC's visit to Assam

  • Sonowal urges peace after JPC's visit to Assam

Sonowal urges peace after JPC's visit to Assam

After emotive protests in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have changed tack on the issue in the state.

"The government is doing everything to take the people of the state into confidence", Assam industry minister Chandra Mohan Patwary said with reference to the bill, which proposes that illegal migrants of certain minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan can become eligible for Indian citizenship.

Organisations such as Khasi Students' Union, Federation of Khasi-Jaintia and Garo People and Hynniewtrep National Youth Front staged protests outside the State Convention Centre in Shillong where the 16-member JPC team, led by BJP Lok Sabha member Rajendra Agarwal, conducted the hearing. More than 100 groups, including Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Congress and All Assam Students' Union (AASU), gathered on the streets of Guwahati to voice their opposition on May 7.

"North East is not the dumping ground for illegal Bangladeshis and the Bill is a threat to the identify of our indigenous people", he said while making it clear that the region can not take the load of Bangladeshis beyond 1971 be it Hindu or Muslim Bangladeshis.

The NRC is expected to identify the genuine Indian citizens living in the state and the illegal foreigners living in the State.

Saikia pointed out that the chief minister had said that he would quit if pushed, but failed to assert that he would stand up and fight for protecting the interests of Assam.

In order to placate the people of the state, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal said he had no reason to continue on his post if he could not protect the interest of the people of the state.

"People should not get agitated as the JPC process for taking their opinion is on".

The chief minister said that before the JPC's visit, it was alleged that he was not allowing it to come to Assam.

She further mentioned that despite opposing the Bill tooth and nail, the people of Assam have to have a humane approach towards the people who would be detected as foreigners. "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". To weed out migrants, the Assam Accord was signed in 1985, which says anyone who entered the state after 1971 would be considered an illegal resident. One day before the JPC visited Shillong on May 9, the Conrad Sangma government in Meghalaya unanimously chose to oppose the Bill.

The minister urged the political parties to not politicize the bill.

There are also fears that anti-Bengali sentiments will increase in the state in the wake of the controversy.