CAA to not affect interests of indigenous Assamese: CM

CAA to not affect interests of indigenous Assamese: CM

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday asserted that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) will in no way adversely affect the indigenous population as the centre has already framed rules for the protection of the Assamese interests.

CAA is a national law now and the rules have been framed taking into consideration the interests of the indigenous Assamese, the chief minister said during an interaction with media persons here on the occasion of the New Year. "People should have no doubt or confusion in their mind regarding this law.We have many plans regarding the protection of their interests and on this first day of the New Year, I want to assure all 'khilonjiya bhumiputras' (sons of the soil) that they are completely secure and there is no power that can endanger their existence?", Sonowal said.

He further said that no new people will come into the country and "even if they try, we will not allow it...a cut- off date of December 31, 2014, has been fixed as eligibility for the citizenship". "If one reads the rules, it will become clear that no Bangladeshi or anybody from some other countries can take advantage of the Act to enter our country. "It is only those who have lived for decades in this country can apply for citizenship, then these applications will be examined and only if it is found to be valid, they will be given citizenship", the chief minister said. The doubts, concerns and confusion of the people of Assam regarding the Act have been conveyed by him to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah since the beginning and they have taken them into consideration to ensure that these were allayed and their interests have been taken care of, he said.

Sonowal asserted that the BJP government at the centre is committed to implement the recommendations of the Committee on Assam Accords Clause Six for giving constitutional safeguards to the indigenous Assamese. And at the same time it has taken several initiatives for the economic development of the state under clause seven of the Accord, particularly in the Numaligarh refinery Limited (NRL), Assam Gas Cracker Limited and in the Petroleum and natural gas sector. He alleged that there is documentary evidence that political parties like the Congress and the Left have launched a misinformation campaign among the simple and innocent people, particularly in the tea garden areas,that illegal migrants would be settled on their ceiling surplus lands creating sense of terror and doubts in their minds.

"I am an indigenous Assamese and it is the people of Assam who made me the chief minister with great faith and trust in me and I cannot in any way betray them. I and my ministers are committed to protect their interests", he said.

Sonowal said on the day he took oath as the chief minister he had pledged to ensure a foreigner, corruption, pollution and terrorism free Assam along with ensuring the development of the state and "we have achieved considerable success though I know much needs to be still done". He said his government has initiated land survey in areas where it was never done before and land documents are being provided to the indigenous people. Besides, steps have been taken to promote the language, culture and traditions by announcing corpus funds for the various Sahitya Sabhas and other cultural institutions of the state.

"There are allegations making the round that we are providing sops to the people and this really saddens me. It is our responsibility to protect our language and culture and I will remain committed to this", he added.

Sonowal further said he cannot understand "under what logic are people saying that we will settle foreigners in our state. "All previous government had not given any importance to the Assam Accord department but my government has rejuvenated it and the first step that we took after assuming office was to announce financial grants for the martyrs and those injured in the Assam agitation against illegal infiltrators".

All Assam Students Union (AASU) had "bestowed on me the title of Jatiya Nayak in 2005 but even then I had made it clear that it is the martyrs who have sacrificed their lives during the agitation and it is they and not me who are the real heroes". He said that he was a product of the Assamese community's jatiya chetana (nationalist awakening) and "just because I have joined a national party (BJP) does not mean that I have given up my roots, culture or my commitment to the state".

"We are now being portrayed as criminals who have sacrificed the interest of the people of Assam for the sake of the party. What have we done that this kind of misinformation campaign is being spread", the chief minister added. Sonowal appealed to the people to have faith in him and his government and urged them "not to isolate me. I am one amongst the people. It is the people who have made me MLA, MP, Union Minister and Chief Minister and I cannot play hide and seek with them". "People may ridicule me and I know many negative comments are being made about me in various quarters but I do not mind. This is a democracy and people have the freedom of speech, I, too, have a lot to say and will say it on proper time", he added. 

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