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16 indigenous groups decry Citizenship Bill

At their meeting with the JPC, the indigenous organizations have warned of dire consequences in case the Bill is passed

a Correspondent
New Delhi, April 17: As many as 16 indigenous organizations from Assam on Tuesday reiterated their protest against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) and warned the government of dire consequences “if they pass the Bill in the Parliament”.
“We have cleared our position before the JPC. At any cost we will not accept the Bill…if they pass the Bill, the government, both at the Centre and in the State, will have to face the consequences,” said Aditya Khaklari, president of the All Assam Tribal Sangha.
Leaders of 16 indigenous organizations had a marathon meeting with the chairman and members of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) set up to look into the issue. The meeting, which continued for five hours from 11am in the morning, was presided over by JPC chairman Rajendra Agrawal.
The leaders have demanded that the JPC must visit the State before taking any decision. “The JPC must talk with all other indigenous  organizations from Assam and other parts of the Northeast as well,” said Khaklari.
The leaders have also raised their protest over the invitation extended to just 16 indigenous organization from Assam.  “We have 12 more indigenous organizations in the State. We have Sahitya Sabha, we have NESO, and several others. The government must take their views too before taking any decision,” said AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya.
“We opposed the Bill at today’s meeting and demanded immediate withdrawal of the Bill. At a time when illegal migrants are creating so many problems, how can the government welcome more people from any neighbouring country only on the pretext of religion?” said ABSU president Pramod Boro.
“We are already bearing the burden of illegal migrants, and the government is now making a move to bring more people from neighbouring countries. It will certainly dump them in Northeast, and it will destroy the social and political space of the already threatened indigenous people,” said Boro.
 “The proposed Bill violates the very idea of secularism of our Constitution. The Bangladeshis must not be differentiated on the basis of religion. All the post-1971 illegal migrants must be expelled, irrespective of their religion as per the Assam Accord,” said the leaders in their communication to the JPC.
Other organizations who took part at the meeting include All Missing Students’ Union, All Rabha Students’ Union, All Tiwa Students’ Union, All Moran Students’ Union, All Dimasa Students’ Union, All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union, All Assam Karbi Students’ Association, All Adivasi Students’ Association of Assam, All Assam Deori Students’ Union, Karbi Students’ Union, All Assam Tribal Youth League, Sadau Asom Garia Maria Deshijatia Parishad, All Assam Hajong Students’ Union and All India Karbi Students’ Association.

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Ankur Kalita