Citizenship for minorities from neighbouring nations unacceptable: Minister
A day after the Karnataka setback, BJP president Amit Shah on Sunday drew flak from his party’s ally in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
The Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) expressed its displeasure over the BJP’s bid to push the Bill, at the third conclave of the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA), a forum of non-Congress parties of the region helmed by the BJP, here on Sunday.
This followed protests by NGOs such as Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti against the Bill before Mr. Shah’s arrival. KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi and others were arrested and whisked away from the conclave venue. “The BJP must scrap this Bill that threatens the existence of the indigenous peoples of Assam besides going against the spirit of the Assam Accord,” AGP president Atul Bora, also a Minister in the BJP-led coalition government in Assam, said at the conclave.
The Bill aims at granting citizenship to minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after six years of residence in India.
The AGP says this will make the Assam Accord of 1985, which seeks deportation of all illegal immigrants entering the State after March 24, 1971, redundant.
“If the Citizenship Bill is passed, it will change Assam’s demography. We feel that there should not be any division of people on religious lines. We hope Amit Shahji will realise the gravity of the situation in Assam and do his best to protect the interests of indigenous communities,” Mr. Bora said.
Mr. Shah avoided the Bill issue, and urged the NEDA constituents to focus on making Mizoram “Congress-mukt”. NEDA has 13 regional parties including the AGP and Mizo National Front, which wants to wrest Mizoram from the Congress.
Mizoram, where Assembly elections are due this year, is the last of the eight States in the Northeast where the Congress is in power.
The Chief Ministers of six States attended the meeting. Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling skipped the conclave, but the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front party had sent representatives.