Silchar, July 12: A mass ‘signature campaign’ in support of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill) 2016 organized by All Assam Bengali Hindu Association (AABHA) which began from last Tuesday has been intensified with volunteers going around and making a strong plea for it. In fact, the campaign was initiated with the signatures of two most senior octogenarian citizens, Kabindra Purkayastha, former union minister and founder of BJP in northeast as well as Dr K P Chakraborty, a poll agent of Dr Shyama Prasad Mukherjee in a election booth of South Kolkata in 1952, the year heralding the first ever general elections of the country.
The mass signature campaign has evoked overwhelming support for the Bill and even persons from other communities have come forward to put in their signatures. Quite significant, the presence of women folk is noticeable. Dharmananda Deb, a leading advocate of Silchar Bar Association said, “The signature campaign in addition to the submissions before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) during its 2 day visit here on May 8 and 9 is yet another drive for introduction of the Bill in the Parliament during its ensuing monsoon session and for its early passage.”
Dharmananda Deb further added to say in case, the Bill could not be passed in both the Houses of Parliament, the Cabinet Select Committee should send the Bill before the President of India for issuing Ordinance. This would ensure enactment of the Bill as a statutory law. Once the Ordinance becomes effective, it would ensure citizenship to all Hindu refugees belonging to Bengali, minority Christian, Buddhists, Jain, Sikh, Parsi communities migrating to India from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh (East Pakistan). He pointed out bordering states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and Punjab located along West Pakistan has indicated their support for the Bill.
Also significant, the refugees who have taken shelter from West Pakistan and Afghanistan have been given shelter and protection in these bordering states. The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill when passed would legitimize not only their stay but also offer citizenship to them, the learned advocate stated. It is most unfortunate as Samiran Das, a school teacher, said the Immigrants (Expulsion from Assam) Act, 1950 which was enacted by the Parliament to provide shelter and protection to Hindu Bengali refugees, victims of religious persecution in East Pakistan, in Assam remained more on paper than implemented on the ground. The Act of 1950 if implemented would have come as a great relief to the persecuted Hindus from the other side of the border.
Pradip Dutta Roy, senior advocate and former ACKHSA president, observed as the National Register of Citizens (NRC) updating finalization in Assam is very near, it is apprehended many thousands or even lakhs may become stateless. The proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 may take a long time to grant citizenship to the impugned class of migrants to India from becoming stateless and face state prosecution of various types. It will be just and proper if an Ordinance under Article 123 of Indian Constitution on lines of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is promulgated with due urgency.