Rahul assures NE delegation about Congress opposition to Citizenship Bill

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Hiren Gohain, NESO and KMSS meet Rahul, tell him to block CAB in RS

HT Bureau

GUWAHATI, Feb 4: Congress president Rahul Gandhi Monday assured three delegations of the civil society, students, farmers and activists from the Northeast that his party will oppose the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The delegations of North East Students’ Organisation (NESO), Forum Against Citizenship Act Amendment Bill (FACAA), led by renowned academician and intellectual Dr Hiren Gohain, and 70 organisations of Assam, including Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), met Gandhi and sought his cooperation to stall the Bill in the Upper House, where the legislation is pending.

“We have met Rahul Gandhi and appraised him about our stand. We have appraised him that this bill violates the basic principles of Assam Accord,” said NESO advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya.

He said that this bill is a threat to the language, culture and identity to the indigenous people of Northeast and Assam.

“We told Rahul Gandhi that this Bill has been passed in the Loka Sabha and the Rajya Sabha is on and somehow this Bill which dilutes the Assam Accord should be stopped. It will also derail the process of updating the NRC,” said Bhattacharya.

“Rahul assured us that they will not allow anybody to crush the language, culture and identity of the indigenous people of Northeast,” he said.

The NESO also met JDU and TMC leaders in New Delhi. The NESO will also meet Samajwadi Party to support their move against the bill.

The delegation of FACAA, led by Dr Gohain, also met Gandhi separately where they told him that the bill will violate the basic tenets of the Constitution and the secular foundation of citizenship in the country as it provides for citizenship to all Hindus who come from the neighbouring country. “The Congress president told us that the party will oppose the bill and will not allow to destroy the language and culture of the Northeast,” FACAA convenor Manjit Mahanta said.

The third delegation, comprising 70 organisations of Assam, met Gandhi and sought his intervention in “scuttling” the NDA government’s “agenda” to impose the Bill on the people of the Northeast.

Gandhi gave the assurance that he would do the needful to ensure that the Bill does not get the approval of the Rajya Sabha, a member of the delegation said.

The Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan after seven years of residence in India instead of 12 years, which is the norm currently, even if they do not possess any document.

The legislation was passed by the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session on January 8 and has been awaiting Rajya Sabha nod.

There has been strong opposition in Assam and other Northeastern states against the Bill. Political parties have been protesting on the grounds that the bill seeks to grant nationality to non-Muslims who have come up to December 31, 2014, thereby, increasing the deadline from 1971 as per the Assam Accord.


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