Will right Partition wrongs, says Narendra Modi

Poll call: PM Narendra Modi with Manipur Chief Minister N. Biren Singh in Imphal on Friday.  

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that his government would be atoning for the “wrong” done during Partition by getting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, passed in Parliament.

The comments come amid widespread protests in Assam against the Bill which seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to provide citizenship to illegal migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who are of Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi or Christian origin.

Addressing a Vijay Sankalp Samavesh rally at Kalinagar in Silchar in southern Assam, the Prime Minister said the Centre was working hard to clear the Bill for safeguarding “all who had been victims of Partition”.

Poll campaign

Mr. Modi was in Silchar as a part of his first phase of election campaign, in which he is scheduled to address rallies in 20 States in 100 days before the model code of conduct comes into force.

“The government is going ahead with the Citizenship Bill, which involves the lives of people. This Bill will be the atonement for the injustice done to some people in the past. I am confident it will be passed in Parliament soon,” Mr . Modi said.

Silchar is the nerve centre of the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley comprising three of Assam’s 33 districts.

A large number of people from this valley, many of them Hindus, were left out of the final draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) being updated in Assam.

The other districts in the Brahmaputra Valley are opposed to the Citizenship Bill, which aims at legitimising the stay of non-Muslims from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who came to India till December 31, 2014 allegedly due to religious persecution.

The Assamese and other indigenous groups in Assam fear that the passage of the Bill would make the State a dumping ground for fresh waves of migrants, specifically “Hindu Bangladeshis”. They also feel that the Bill would make redundant the exercise of NRC, which lists those who have come to Assam before March 24, 1971 as mandated by the Assam Accord.

“Mistakes were made in the past when the country was divided and they have to be undone. Some people had stayed back in some places and if they face difficulties there, it is the duty of Mother India to give shelter to them. Those reposing faith in Mother India will be protected,” Mr. Modi said.

“Many of you faced hardships during the NRC updating process, and some of you are worried. But I assure you that no Indian citizen will be left out of the NRC. Efforts are being made to ensure that every individual is heard. We had made several appeals to the Supreme Court regarding NRC documents and it accepted those. As a result, the difficulties of applicants were minimised,” the Prime Minister said.

Mr. Modi also sought to placate the indigenous communities opposed to the Bill by referring to the Union Cabinet’s decision to constitute a high-level committee for effective implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, which says: “Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”

The accord, signed in 1985, had ended a six-year agitation against illegal migrants.

Earlier on Thursday, Mr. Modi inaugurated eight projects and laid the foundation of five more in Manipur. These projects include an integrated check post at Moreh, a town bordering Myanmar, the Dolaithabi Barrage, an FCI warehouse at Sawombung in Imphal East district, and a buffer water reservoir at Shirui village in Ukhrul district.

All markets in Imphal town remained closed during the Prime Minister’s visit following a boycott call by a conglomerate of six banned extremist groups.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 11:28:17 AM |

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