KOKRAJHAR, May 22: The Congress, Kokrajhar district committee on Tuesday strongly opposed the move of the Government of India to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 to grant citizenship rights to Hindu Bangladeshis living in Assam and brought out a protest rally in Kokrajhar town. The rally started from Rajiv Bhavan in the heart of Kokrajhar town and moved to DC office where they submitted a memorandum to the chairman of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) through the Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner. The rally, which was led by the secretary of the APCC and in-charge of Kokrajhar district of the APCC, Biswajit Ray and president of Kokrajhar district Congress committee, Bimal Mandol, was joined by around hundred supporters. They shouted slogans against the BJP governments at the Centre and the State and demanded cancellation of the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
Talking to media persons, the secretary of the APCC, Biswajit Ray, who was also the former president of All Koch Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU), said the Congress strongly opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill of the BJP as it was based on religion. He said, “Bangladeshis are Bangladeshis and there is no question of accepting the Bangladeshis on the basis of religion, which is against the Constitution and the interest of the indigenous people of the State as a whole.” He said the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was a threat to the indigenous people of the State as Hindu Bangladeshis would be given citizenship rights. He also said the proposed bill was against the spirit of the Assam Accord, 1985.
Ray said Prime Minister Narendra Modi publicly asked the illegal Bangladeshis of the State to leave with bag and baggage after the 2015 assembly election in the State. But instead of deporting the illegal Bangladeshis, the Modi government was going to grant citizenship rights to the Bangladeshis staying illegally on the basis of religion, he said. Ray accused the BJP government of trying to destroy the communal harmony in the region.
The Congress leader said that Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal once led the AASU and they launched a State-wide agitation demanding complete deportation of Bangladeshis from the State. He said Sonowal fought for scrapping the IMDT Act and accordingly, the act was finally scrapped and Sonowal became a ‘national hero’ but his real face was exposed after he supported the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. He questioned Sonowal government as to why his government failed to oppose the bill while the neighbouring Meghalaya government could take a cabinet decision against the bill.
Biswajit Ray also slammed BPF president Hagrama Mohilary for playing ‘opportunist politics’ in this critical juncture. He said Mohilary had come to know that his party would be defeated in the forthcoming parliamentary election in 2019 as therefore, he was trying to lure the Bangladeshi voters just to win the 2019 election. When asked as to why the Congress opposed the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill when the proposal for granting citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis was proposed by the Congress, he said the Congress did not take any decision to give citizenship right to Bangladeshis but sought identification of suspected nationals and proof of being citizens of India.