Govt’s intention is to pass Citizenship Bill: Modi
GUWAHATI, 9th Feb: Unfazed by the resistance in the Northeast, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said his government's intention is to pass the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Bill but assured the people of the region that it will ensure that the legislation does not cause any harm to Assam and its neighbouring states.
The Prime Minister was addressing a public rally at Changsari near Guwahati while inaugurating several development projects amid protests by various organisations across the region which showed him black flags on Friday.
“The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not for Assam or north-eastern states. It is for the whole country. The Bill is a national commitment considering the plight of the persecuted minorities in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. The passage of the Bill will ensure that those who were left out during the Partition and who still love India more than their lives are accommodated in the country. It is the responsibility of India to accept those people,” he said.
“I am here to assure you that the Bill will not harm Assam or any other state in the region. The Bill will only allow those persecuted minorities to apply for citizenship. There is no question of granting citizenship without verification,” Modi said.
The Prime Minister said the government is committed to ensuring that there are no illegal foreigners in Assam and the country.
“Our government has started work for updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC) under the supervision of the Supreme Court, which the previous government was not doing. Our government is also working at a faster pace to seal the India-Bangladesh border,” Modi said.
Assam witnessed yet another nude protest on Saturday when a group of six persons stripped off their clothes and marched in front of the state secretariat at Dispur, shouting slogans against the Citizenship bill.
The incident took place prior to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's public rally at Changsari, around 50 km away from Dispur. The Prime Minister is in the state to inaugurate several developmental projects including laying of foundation stone of All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) at Changsari.
Police said that six persons marched naked on the Guwahati-Shillong Road before police personnel spotted them near the secretariat and took them into custody. The agitators were identified as members of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), an organisation opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
On February 1, three persons protested against the bill by standing nude in front of the high security Janata Bhavan in Dispur.
Last month, at least ten youths from Assam staged nude protests in front of the parliament in New Delhi against the contentious Bill.
Both the BJP-led governments at the Centre and in Assam have been receiving flak over the Citizenship bill which has led to protests all over the northeast with people from all walks of life coming out to the streets to oppose the measure.
The Prime Minister attacked the Congress by holding the opposition party responsible for the delay in conferring Bharat Ratna to the late Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi.
“Although music maestro Bhupen Hazarika and Gopinath Bordoloi were worthy of Bharat Ratna, the conferring of the honour to them was delayed for decades by the previous governments. It is the BJP government during whose tenure Bharat Ratna was conferred to both the worthy sons of Assam,” he said. “I want to ask them why the real jewels had to wait for decades to be recognised as Bharat Ratna, while for some the honour was fixed immediately after their birth,” said the Prime Minister, adding that the previous governments in Assam also failed to implement the Assam Accord for over 30 years.
“Our government has already instituted a committee to implement the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and I firmly believe that the committee will be able to fulfil all the aspirations of the people of the state,” he said.