Citizenship Bill: AASU, 28 other organisations hold 11-hour mass hunger strike

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HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, May 29: Representatives of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 28 indigenous organisations staged 11-hour mass hunger strike in protest against the BJP-led NDA government’s move to grant citizenship to illegal migrants belonging to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan by passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 at the Assam Engineering Institute (AEI) playground, Chandmari here on Tuesday.

The protest, which began at 6 am, was also joined by a large number of people including representatives of political parties, intellectuals, artistes, former rebel leaders, journalists and writers.

The protestors demanded constitutional safeguard to the indigenous communities of the state on the basis of the clauses of Assam Accord, withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, sealing of the India-Bangladesh border and signing of a bilateral agreement between India and Bangladesh for deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.

“Assam is not a dustbin to dump Bangladeshis,” AASU chief advisor Dr Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said. He said that the AASU along with 28 other organisations would continue to protest against the Bill until the Centre withdraws it.

“The government should know that there is a region called Northeast beyond Kolkata which is also a part of the country. We won’t tolerate discrimination with us anymore,” Bhattacharya also said.

Bhattacharya urged the Assam government to voice against the Bill for the greater interest of the indigenous communities of the state.

Referring to the decision of Conrad Sangma-led Meghalaya Cabinet to denounce the Bill, the AASU leader questioned the Assam government as to why they couldn’t raise their voice against the bill.

Demanding scrapping of the Bill, All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) president Pramod Boro, who also joined the protest said, “The Bill would pose a serious threat to the ethnic groups of the state. The illegal migrants have already made a big impact on the socio-economic and political aspects of lives in the state.”

Urging the government to provide constitutional safeguards to the ethnic groups, languages and cultures of the state, the ABSU president further said, “The Bill, if passed by the Centre, would diminish the identity of various ethnic groups.”

Reacting to Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary’s comment on the Bill, the ABSU leader said, “Hagrama Mohilary already said that he was an opportunist. It is unfortunate to have such opportunist political leaders in the state.”

Pro-talk ULFA leader Anup Chetia said that, ULFA had raised the issue in the last discussion with the Union government.

“If the Bill is passed then the ongoing peace will be derailed and young generation of the state will go to path of violence and will join United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent. Some situation like as ‘80s, ‘90s will arise,” Anup Chetia said.

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