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AASU, intellectuals fume over flip-flop on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill hearing

Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, April 10: Has the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) been formed to hear the views of individuals and organizations of Assam on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 with the best of intentions? Such a question arises in Assam as the JPC keeps on changing the date and venue for hearing views on the Bill from Assam. The committee is headed by Rajendra Agarwal.
The sincerity of the part of the JPC is questioned for – it has opted not to send its team to Assam for the hearing and it has fixed April 12, 2018 as the date for hearing in Delhi only to defer it to April 17, 2018 when there will be the Rongali Bihu back home in Assam.
The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and various other organizations of the State are taken aback at the flip-flop of the JPC on such an issue that has much to do with the future of Assam and its people.
The situation has come to such a pass on the issue in Assam that a group of intellectuals had to meet on Tuesday to brainstorm on the issue. The meeting took a decision to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister, the Leader of Opposition and the Chairman of the JPC.
Meanwhile, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said: “The JPC should have held the hearing in Assam, but is going to hold it in Delhi. We’ve agreed to that.Why should the JPC keep flip-flopping with the date of hearing in Delhi when there’s Rogali Bihu in Assam? Now we’re going to be firm on the issue. The leaders of all organizations that have registered their opposition to the Bill should be called at the hearing. Inviting only a few of the organizations leaving a number of others aside won’t do. That’ll be a partial representation on the Bill from the State. We’re not going to accept anything short of this.”
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 to make illegal Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Parsi, Christian and other migrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan illegible for Indian citizenship.
Under the existing Act one of the requirements for citizenship by turalization is that the applicant must have resided in India during the past 11years. The Bill, however, seeks to relax the 11-year requirement to six years.