Congress, AIUDF in Assam oppose Citizenship Bill

23 Oct 2018

In a curious turn of events, Congress and AIUDF have extended support to the 12-hour bandh call in Assam on Tuesday by 46 organizations in protest against the Centre's bid to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, in the Winter Session of Parliament. Life in Assam was paralysed by the bandh call during the day, indicating the extent of opposition to the Bill.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.
The passage of the Bill is expected to provide some protection to Hindus among people entering Assam from Bangladesh. The on-going preparation of the National Register of Citizens has made the future of many immigrants from Bangladesh to Assam uncertain. Both Congress and AIUDF are known to espouse the cause of minorities in Assam. In different north-eastern states, however, Congress has been championing regional sentiments for some time, giving rise to the possibility of the party opting for alliances with regional parties in the north-east in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and the, Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) are among the organizations which have supported the bandh. Political partieslike Congress and AIUDF have supported the bandh in the interest of Assam and its indigenous people.
Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), partners in the ruling alliance with BJP in Assam, though not supporting the bandh, has called a separate rally on Tuesday to protest against the proposed Bill. The All Assam Students' Union (AASU) is also not supporting the bandh as the students' body has a policy of not calling bandhs; but "others have the democratic right to protest", AASU General Secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi told PTI. "We are, however, opposed to the Bill and will in no way accept it", he added.
State Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had said the Gauhati High Court had ruled that calling a bandh was an illegal act and so the statewide bandh could not be allowed.
From Sibsagar in upper Assam to Rangiya in lower Assam, normal life was affected by the bandh call on Tuesday. Protestors tried to put up blockades on railway tracks and disrupt train services across Assam. Demonstrators also burnt tyres on roads in various places of the state. Buses were stoned. Police escorts were being provided to public transport vehicles. According to reports, attendance in government offices was high, however, as the State Government opposed the call actively. (EOIC & Written with PTI reports from Guwahati)