Guwahati: Terming the Narendra Modi government’s Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) communal, unconstitutional and anti-indigenous, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) Tuesday said it will fight against the Act in the Supreme Court and on the streets of Assam peacefully until it is repealed.
The AASU has been spearheading the protests against CAA across the state.
AASU’s chief advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Assam’s BJP dispensation have gone back on the promises made to its people. He also said people will no longer believe in the words spoken by either the PM or Home Minister Amit Shah, let alone the state BJP leadership.
Dipanka Kumar Nath, a prominent student leader who took charge as the AASU president in 2015, has been camping in New Delhi for the past few days to lead the legal fight against CAA. A petition filed by the AASU in the Supreme Court against the contentious Act is scheduled to be heard later this week.
“CAA is a protector of illegal Bangladeshis. It is violating the historic Assam Accord. Is anti- indigenous, anti-northeast, communal and unconstitutional,” Bhattacharya told ThePrint.
He also said that in India citizenship cannot be decided on the basis of religion. “This Act would be an encouragement for illegal Bangladeshis to come to Assam and the Northeast.”
Stating that Assam isn’t a “dumping ground” for illegal foreigners, the AASU advisor also said, “We have seen the fate in Tripura. Total population of the state is about 40 lakh, out of which the indigenous people are only 12 lakh. This is now affecting Assam, Mizoram, Manipur, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh. We cannot accept this CAA.”
The students’ union — which has given Assam at least two chief ministers, including the current Sarbananda Sonowal — also stressed on peaceful protests following the spate of violence on 10 and 11 December when the protests first broke out. At least four people died during the violent protests. The body has been organising a ‘gana satyagraha‘ march against CAA across the state.
Also read: Have arrested 85 protesters & detained 2,000, more being identified via videos: Assam DGP
‘Not against Bengali Hindus or Muslims but illegal foreigners’
Bhattacharya also pointed out that 860 lives were lost during the six-year-long Assam Agitation, a popular movement against illegal infiltration that was led by the AASU, which took place between 1979 and 1985.
“Thousands became handicapped due to police atrocity and firing. Our sisters and mothers were raped. Then the Assam Accord was announced by the then Prime Minister (Rajiv Gandhi) while hoisting the tricolour from the Lal Qila,” he said, and added that several other leaders such as Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani also supported it.
“Then the Accord was discussed in Parliament and Clause 6(A) was inserted into the Citizenship Act to deal with foreign national issue as a special provision of Assam Accord,” Bhattacharya added. While the cut-off date for identifying foreigners in the rest of the country was 1948, it was 24 March 1971 for Assam under the Accord.
The AASU advisor also said how the current leadership is asking the state to “take more load”.
“From 1974 to 2014, we will have to take more illegal Hindu Bangladeshis. How can it be? Assam is a small state. We cannot take load beyond 1971,” he said.
Asked if the protests in Assam were against illegal Bangladeshi Muslims alone, Bhattacharya said people in Assam and the rest of Northeast were not against Bengalis, either Hindus or Muslims. “We are against illegal Bangladeshis, illegal foreigners. They may be Hindus or Muslims. It is a question of citizenship.”
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‘Modi, BJP cannot be trusted’
Bhattacharya also hit out at PM Modi and Shah’s assurances that Assam’s interests will be protected. He spelt out three instances of what he said were previous betrayals by the government.
First, he accused PM Modi of failing to keep his promises. “During the Lok Sabha campaign of 2014, he said after 16 May that year those who have come will have to pack up. Now he is saying that those who have packed-up can stay. He is also saying that those in Bangladesh should pack-up and come here. He failed to keep his commitment.”
Bhattacharya then accused the previous Congress government of “transferring Assam’s land to Bangladesh”.
“The opposition BJP had then called for bandh. They went to the border and hoisted our national flag to oppose this decision of handing over land. When Modi became Prime Minister, the first thing he did was transfer the land back to Bangladesh.”
And the third betrayal, Bhattacharya claimed, was in the last assembly elections when the state BJP, in its vision document, had said it will implement the Assam Accord in letter and spirit.
“There was not a single word regarding protection of illegal foreigners. People thought BJP’s commitment was very clear and voted for the party. So how can we trust them?” he asked.
He also asked PM Modi, who had appealed for peace, to “show his respects to the non- violent movement of Assam and the Northeast by scrapping the CAA”.
Bhattacharya finally said if the CAA was “not good” for states with inner line permits and in seven out of 33 districts of Assam, how can it be for the rest of India.
Also read: Why CAB-plus-NRC fantasy is BJP’s next Ram Mandir-plus-Article 370 gambit
Another important thing which i would like to clarify, i do not think that the hindus of pakistan will come to india ,leaving aside their properties,occupations and deep attachment of their motherland,and even if a few may come ,maybe the poor class of Hindus.Same with afghanistan or bangla desh.Maybe some peasents may come up here.
In legal terminology it is said ‘Settled things should not be unsettled’.It is this law which needs to be relooked into,as Modi goverment is experimenting on important national issues, by unsettling them. Even if Hindutva is brought forward and India is made or called a hindu nation [It allready is a hindu nation], whether india can survive on the plank of Hindutva forever.It is quite possible prime minister Modi does not know art of reforms,and to hide his failure has adopted Hindutva as his couch and identity.My view is without Reforms india is doomed.Allready the effects are showing up, with a downsliding economy. Justice chalmeshwar in his dissenting judgement in the judges appointment commisson bill had categorically stated that comprehensive reforms are a must and India should not be late.All around, ,Reforms have taken countries forward,whereas india is lagging behind much.I request learned editor to highlight the same.Thanks
I agree with the author that over-indulgence in history is harmful. We must focus on today’s issues and challenges. CAA is a gross mis-calculation and a blunder. It’s timing is wrong and the impact deleterious for the nation consisting of multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-ethnic segments. This is totally undesirable when our country is passing through a severe economic slowdown. Now, what differentiates India from Pakistan? Undoubtedly, the social harmony and economic growth story. If the growth story is halted, we lose our reputation and respect. Even more harmful than the CAA could be the implementation of pan-NRC. It is an unwieldy, costly and divisive exercise. I request the government to pause and reconsider. At the the same time, let us not pretend that problem of illegal immigration doesn’t exist. Illegal immigration has taken place due to negligent approach. In this respect, Congress is to be blamed, as it actively encouraged free flow of immigration from Bangla Desh to suit its vote-bank politics. Congress is the genesis of Assam’s demographic crisis. They can’t shift the blame elsewhere.
In my view, right to reside and right of citizenship are two different matters. While the immigrants could be given right to reside on humanitarian basis, whether they are entitled for citizenship, irrespective of their religion, is a moot point.
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