Citizenship Bill will in no way cause harm to Assam and northeast, says PM Modi

Modi says it is India’s obligation to offer refuge to minorities fleeing religious persecution

Updated - June 09, 2020 12:26 pm IST

Published - February 09, 2019 03:13 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Poll stop: Narendra Modi inspecting loin loom weaving at Raj Bhavan in Itanagar on Saturday. Arunachal Pradesh Governor B.D. Mishra and Chief Minister Pema Khandu are also seen.

Poll stop: Narendra Modi inspecting loin loom weaving at Raj Bhavan in Itanagar on Saturday. Arunachal Pradesh Governor B.D. Mishra and Chief Minister Pema Khandu are also seen.

Amid black-flag protests and boycott of his programmes in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, and Tripura, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday defended the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, but said it would not have any negative impact on the north-eastern States. He also said the Opposition was spreading rumours about the Bill.

Virtually launching the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Lok Sabha poll campaign by addressing a public rally at Amingaon near Guwahati, the Prime Minister said people with vested interests were misinterpreting the Bill that seeks to fast-track the process of citizenship for non-Muslims who have fled religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan and came to India till December 31, 2014.

“The provisions of the Bill are such that the decision of granting citizenship can be taken only after necessary investigation and recommendation by the administration of a State. My government is fully committed to protecting the rights and interests of Assam,” he said.

‘They’re not infiltrators’

Mr. Modi said there is a need to differentiate between the people who infiltrate India “with the intention of capturing our resources” and those who are forced to come due to atrocities faced in their respective countries. “Citizenship Amendment Bill is not just linked to the northeast. There are many people in different parts of the country who have faith in India and who love Mother India. They have come here to save their lives,” he said.

The Prime Minister insisted it was India’s obligation to protect the minorities who fled their countries because of religious persecution and let the entire country absorb them. “But some are spreading rumours,” he said, in obvious reference to the propaganda that 2 crore Bengali Hindus would migrate to Assam if the Bill was passed.

While the local authorities had sanitised the rally venue to keep protesters at bay, various organisations burnt the Prime Minister’s effigy and demonstrated with black flags. Some youth also stripped outside the Assam Secretariat in protest.

Unhappy allies

Recently, the regional Asom Gana Parishad had quit the BJP-led coalition in Assam over the Bill. Other allies in the northeast have threatened to pull out too. Some BJP leaders in the region have also opposed the Bill.

Prior to the rally, the Prime Minister initiated and inaugurated projects worth ₹4,000 crore in Arunachal Pradesh where the Congress held a rally and released black balloons in protest.

The projects included laying the foundation stone of Arunachal’s first civilian airport at Hollongi and a tunnel at Sela, a strategic snow-capped pass on the way to Tawang, and inaugurating a retrofitted airport at Tezu that was built 50 years ago but was not operational.

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