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Assam: Indigenous People Fear of Being Reduced to Minority?

Source: | Tuesday, December 19, 2017

While the NDA government has proposed to pass the
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 to grant citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs,
Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians migrants from Afghanistan,
Bangladesh and Pakistan, the political parties, student bodies and
citizens in Assam have once again expressed the fear that the indigenous
communities would get reduced into a minority.

Bhattacharyya, the chief advisor of the All Assam Students’ Union
(AASU), while speaking to the media on Sunday said, “Assam will be the
worst affected because while a large number of Hindus from Bangladesh
have already illegally entered the state in the past several decades,
more would come and seek to stay here, in the process causing a further
damage to the state’s demography and reduce the Assamese and other
indigenous communities into a minority”.


All Assam Students Union (AASU) that embodies 28 student units which
represent various indigenous communities of the state, has also
threatened to launch an agitation against the Centre trying to force the
Bill on Assam.  Bhattacharyya further added, “Assam has already taken
enough burden of people from the neighbouring country. Moreover, the
BJP-led government had come to power in the state on the promise of
protecting the identity and interests of the indigenous communities”.

AASU leader also pointed out,while the NDA had referred the Bill in
2016 to a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), the Bill was never
introduced to Assam to get the assesment by the people here.  He said,
“The JPC took views of the AASU, but not of other stakeholders including
political parties and citizens”.

It must be noted that an ally
of BJP, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) has strongly opposed the Bill. Atul
Bora, the AGP President, who happens to be one of the ministers in
BJP-led Sonowal Government said, “The AGP is clear in its stand againt
this Bill that would render the Assam Accord meaningless and directly
affect the identity of Assamese and other indigenous communities of the
state”. On the other hand, the Asom Yuva Parishad (AYP) party’s youth
wing has warned that Assam would burn if the Bill would get passed.

Left and Democratic Alliance (LDM) which comprises of the CPI(M), CPI
and other non-Congress non-BJP parties of the state accused that the
BJP-led government at the Centre is trying to grant citizenship on the
basis of religion, and said that Assam would be the state that would
have the worst effect on it. LDM convenor Debeswar Bhattacharyya said,
“The Centre must understand the gravity of the situation because all
groups, parties, organisations and socio-cultural organisations in
Assam, barring the BJP are opposed to it”.

The citizens of Assam
have also jumped into the debate of not getting this bill passed. A
group of citizens which includes the leading intellectual and former
Gauhati University professor Hiren Gohain has asked all groups and
parties cutting across ideologies to stand united against the Center’s
move. The lead said, “This Bill will endanger language and culture of
Assam and change the state’s demography once for all”.

opposition party in Assam, Congress party on its part has asked chief
minister Sonowal to make his stand clear on the controversial
Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Ripun Bora, the APCC president said,
“Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal should immediately make his stand
clear as to whether he really supports the Bill that will facilitate
settlement of lakhs of Hindu migrants in Assam. He had come to power on
the promise of protecting the identity of the Assamese and other
indigenous communities”.

On the issue and concern of the people
of Assam, the BJP’s state spokesperson Rupam Goswami said, “Our party
has been clear since the beginning that Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and
Christians forced to leave the neighbouring countries should be given
shelter in India. The notion that is being spread that crores of Hindus
from Bangladesh will land in Assam is unfounded”.


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