'Citizenship Amendment Bill' passage marked by violent bandh in Assam

Protests-Support over Citizenship Bill storms Silchar

India's lower house passed on Tuesday legislation that will grant citizenship to members of certain religious minorities but not Muslims, sparking protests in the country's northeast.

Withdrawal of the AGP, which has 14 MLAs in the 126-member assembly, will not have any immediate effect on the future of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government that still has the backing of 74 MLAs.

Notably, unlike previous occasions, ugly protestors trying to impose bandh by burning tyres and damaging public property have not been witnessed anywhere in Guwahati as well as other parts in the State till the time of filing of this report.

The announcement followed AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta's statement that the party would withdraw support to the government in the state if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in passed by Lok Sabha.

Sarangthem warned that the AMSU will launch various forms of agitations if the state's Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government does nothing tangible to protect the indigenous peoples.

An investigation has been initiated into the bomb attack on the BJP office, said Davis N.R. Marak, superintendent of police of East Khasi Hills district.

A year ago the Assam government published a draft citizens' register that left off four million people unable to prove they were living there before 1971, when millions fled Bangladesh's war of independence. He said the NDA government was hasty in granting ST status to six communities in Assam as a political ploy ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Defending the bill, India's Minister of Home Affairs Rajnath Singh clarified that the Act is not confined to the state of Assam.

The bill seeks to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014. Mizoram and Meghalaya governments have opposed the Bill by adopting resolution against it in their respective cabinet meetings.

Noting that the bill has to go through the Rajya Sabha, which has been extended till Wednesday, Bhattacharya expressed apprehension that the BJP might try to get it passed there as well.

He said the Bill not only applies to Assam but to the entire country and such migrants were in several other states.

"We tried our best to convince the Modi government not to pursue the Bill that goes against the constitutional provisions, besides being potentially risky for the indigenous people of Assam".

Later, Bora told a television channel, "We felt betrayed at the BJP's attitude towards the bill as when we entered into the alliance, we were convinced Prime Minister Narendra Modi was committed to resolve the issue of illegal migrants.We never dreamt that the BJP could do this to the people of Assam. Our party was formed in 1985 with this promise of freeing Assam from illegal migrants from Bangladesh", AGP president Atul Bora said. "But the BJP has chose to go ahead with the Bill, leaving us with no option but to quit the alliance", Mr Bora said after meeting Mr Singh.

The minister said that not much was done over the past 35 years to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord which provides for taking steps to promote the social, cultural and linguistic identity of the state.

The move by the AGP came within hours of the presentation in Lok Sabha of a report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the bill that was first introduced in Parliament in 2016.

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