The Assam State Congress urged party President Rahul Gandhi on Monday to ensure that the Congress votes against the contentious citizenship bill when it is placed in the Rajya Sabha. In a letter to Gandhi, the legal wing of the state Congress said “People of Assam are very disappointed that the Congress Party MPs decided to walk out prior to the voting on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8 during the passage of the Bill, thereby sending a message of tacit understanding with the BJP on this issue.”
Legal department Convener Monoj Bhagawati, Chairman Niran Borah and Coordinator Krishna Sarmah are some of the top signatories to the letter. The members pointed out that a secular Constitution cannot discriminate on the lines of faith, alleging that the bill struck at the very core of the Constitution. The bill, pending in the Rajya Sabha, seeks to provide citizenship to only non-Muslims — Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis — from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan. The letter stressed on the Assam Accord, 1985, which had specifically mentioned that illegal immigrants who came to the state after March 24, 1971, shall be detected and deported. But, the new bill now pushes that date to December 31, 2014.
“It has been a longstanding demand of the people of the state and the Congress that the Assam Accord should be implemented in true letter and spirit and the Bill is a fraud on the people of Assam,” the letter added. The bill, if passed, will change the demographics of the regions, the languages and dialect, unique social structures and cultures of the people, which are already being threatened and their “annihilation will now get legal sanctity”, it said. In a case like Tripura, indigenous people will become a minority in their own homeland, it added.