The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), an influential body in the Northeast, today demanded immediate withdrawal of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill saying it was unconstitutional as it seeks to grant Indian citizenship only on the basis of religion.
The AASU also said it was not against Hindus, neither Muslims nor Bengalis but against the illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Addressing a press conference, AASU advisor Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya said the entire north-eastern region have voiced its opposition to the Bill, which seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, while governments of Meghalaya and Mizoram adopted resolutions opposing the proposed law.
“A foreigner is a foreigner. He may be Hindu, he may be Muslim. We are against granting citizenship to foreigners on the basis of religion. The Bill must be withdrawn and scrapped immediately,” he said here. Assam has been witnessing protests against the central government’s move to enact the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 that seeks to grant citizenship to non-Muslims (Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian) from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan who came to India due to alleged religious persecution in those countries.
Bhattacharya said the Bill, if passed, would pave the way for giving citizenship to illegal immigrants from Bangladesh in Assam. Referring to the ongoing updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a list of state’s citizens, AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said the process is not directed against any community, language or religion.
“The NRC updation process is segregating the citizens of India living in Assam from the non-citizens living illegally in Assam. The process is transparent and subject to judicial review. The AASU is not against any religion or language. The AASU is only against the illegal presence of Bangladeshi Hindus and Muslims. There should not be an iota of doubt about it,” he said.