Citizenship Bill row: AGP threatens to quit govt.

Atul Bora. File

Atul Bora. File   | Photo Credit: Sandeep Saxena

Agriculture Minister petitions President against amendment

In a sign of trouble between allies in yet another BJP-ruled State, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) chief Atul Bora on Wednesday said “his party will come out of the Government with BJP in Assam” if the Centre goes ahead with the proposed Citizenship Amendment Act that proposes to grant citizenship rights to minority migrants (Hindus) from neighbouring Bangladesh if they arrived in the country by December 31, 2014.

Mr. Bora, who is the Agriculture Minister in the Sarbananda Sonowal government in Assam, led a delegation of AGP lawmakers to call on President Ram Nath Kovind.

“If this Bill is implemented, it will violate the Assam Accord. And the basis of our alliance was to implement the Accord….We are very clear that if the Centre goes ahead, we will come out,” said Mr. Bora in an exclusive interview with The Hindu.

The Assam Accord – signed in 1985 between the Rajiv Gandhi government and the All Assam Students Union’ and the Assam Gana Sangram Parishad – had decided March 24, 1971 as the cut- off date for granting citizenship to migrant settlers.

The Assam Accord, that has been ratified by Parliament, mandated that any migrant, irrespective of their religion, would be deemed as a foreigner and can be deported if they entered Assam after the cut-off date of March 24, 1971.

On directions of the Supreme Court, the State government is updating the National Register of Citizenship to determine the number of such undocumented migrants. But the proposed citizenship amendment bill – currently being examined by a Joint Parliamentary Committee -- makes a distinction between the minority and majority community and seeks to grant citizenship rights to minority communities (Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Parsis, etc.) in neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan if they arrived in India by December 31, 2014.

On Tuesday, the delegation had met Home Minister Rajnath Singh as well to voice their opposition.

“We cannot accept the Bill that seeks to grant citizenship on the basis of religion. Also, the move will have an impact on our language, culture and change our demography. We want the Assam Accord to be implemented,”said Mr. Bora.

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Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 5:52:19 PM |

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