CAA won't affect Assam's demography: Sonowal

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal interacting with mediapersons in Guwahati on Wednesday. Photo credit: Assam govt

Facing strong criticism over the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Wednesday assured that the state's demography would not be affected by the amendment as is being projected by a section.

"The CAA is a national act and no new foreigner, be it from Bangladesh or any other country can come for citizenship through this amendment. The cut-off is clearly mentioned. Only those who migrated till December 2014 from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and have been living in our country for decades will be able to apply for Indian citizenship. We have already forwarded our suggestions to the Centre regarding the rules to be framed for implementation of the act. Let me assure today that it will not affect our population pattern or demography as is being projected by a section," Sonowal said while interacting with mediapersons here on the first day of 2020.

Assam roared in strong protests since December 11, when the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2019 was passed in the Parliament. The indigenous people fear that the amendment would reduce them into minorities by giving citizenship to a large number of Hindu Bengali migrants from neighbouring Bangladesh. The situation took a violent turn on December 12, when a section of protesters set fire on vehicles, blocked roads, pelted stones here and in some other parts of the state and even allegedly attempted to attack the state secretariat here. Five persons were killed in police firing, several were injured while more than 300 arrested.

Sonowal also alleged that Congress and the left parties were spreading wrong information about the CAA among the state's indigenous people for political mileage. "We are being projected as if we have committed a crime. I am a son of this soil. How can I harm my own community, my own state and own language? We will make sure that identity, culture and land rights of the Assamese people are protected by implementing Clause VI of the Assam Accord," he said.

Sonowal faced much anger from many quarters including the All Assam Students' Union, the influential students' body, which he had led before entering politics. AASU says the CAA is a violation of the Assam Accord of 1985, which agreed to detect the foreigners with March 24, 1971, as the cut-off year, irrespective of religion. AASU also called the act communal as it seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim migrants only.

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