Northeast seeths in anger over Cabinet nod to the CAB

Students hold placards during a protest rally against the Citizenship Amendment Bill, in Guwahati. (PTI photo)

The Cabinet nod to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday left most parts of Assam seething in anger with many organisations warning a re-run of the Assam Agitation of the 1980s to stop Narendra Modi government from giving citizenship to post-1971 migrants.

"We fought against the foreigners for six years before signing the Assam Accord in 1985, in which we accepted foreigners till March 1971. Now Modi government is forcing us to accept more foreigners till 2014. They are undermining the Assam Accord even as their election manifesto clearly promised to implement it in letter and spirit. We will never accept this and will continue to fight on the streets. People of Assam will fight and the situation this time could be more dangerous than the 1980s," general secretary of All Assam Students' Union (AASU), Lurinjyoti Gogoi said, soon after their meeting with home minister Amit Shah in New Delhi on Tuesday evening failed to break the ice.

AASU, one of the signatories of the Assam Accord staged a protest in Guwahati by burning the effigies of Shah, Modi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

"This is nothing but a ploy of BJP to ensure its Hindu vote bank by giving citizenship to Hindu migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan," AASU advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharjya said.

Senior Congress leader and former Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi termed the bill as communal and unconstitutional as it seeks to offer citizenship to non-Muslim migrants only. "This will reduce the indigenous communities into minorities and endanger ethnic identity of various indigenous communities not only in Assam but for other parts of the Northeast. We oppose this bill and will fight against it. We want that the foreigner issue is tackled as per the Assam Accord and all who settled in Assam after March 24, 1971, be detected and deported, irrespective of religion," Gogoi said.

"If they think people of Assam are not against the bill, let there be a referendum," he said.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, a peasants' rights body and others will stage a protest in front of the Assam Assembly on Thursday to oppose the bill.

BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is leading the government's campaign in support of the bill claims the bill would give citizenship to only 4 to 5 lakh post-1971 migrants and would save several Assembly constituencies from going into the hands of "Bangladeshi Muslims."

Two allies of BJP, Asom Gana Parishad and Bodoland People's Front are now supporting the bill even as Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, former Chief Minister, and AGP leader said the party was against any move that seeks to undermine the Assam Accord. Mahanta had led the Assam Accord between 1979 to 1985, as AASU chief.

Some groups in Meghalaya and Tripura also opposed the bill and threatened to launch fresh agitation. 

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