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AGP validates its protest to Shah, says Bill threatens Assamese identity

GUWAHATI, May 20: If not fissures, at least troubles seem to be brewing in the North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) with the AGP, an ally of the BJP-led coalition at Dispur, registering its strident protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in front of BJP national president Amit Shah.

The NEDA held its third conclave at Srimanta Sankaradev Kalakhetra here on Sunday.

Drawing Shah’s attention on the Bill, AGP president and State Agriculture Minister Atul Bora said: “The move to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 is a burning issue in Assam. The AGP opposes the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as it will violate certain clauses of the Assam Accord. The people of Assam had to agitate for six years during which as many as 855 people were martyred. If the Bill is passed, it will violate the Assam Accord. It’s a threat to the identity of the Assamese people. It’ll change the demography of Assam. And there shouldn’t be any division on the basis of religion as well. We’ve met the Prime Minister against the Bill and urged him to revoke it. We hope Shah can gauge the sentiment in Assam and do his best to protect the interests of indigenous communities of the State.”

Bora, however, said in the past two years the government has done a lot of development works in the State under the leadership of Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. “We, nonetheless, have much to do. The expectation of the people is very high. We need to implement the Assam Accord and provide constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of the State. Problems like floods and erosion, unemployment, inter-state border disputes, according ST status to six ethnic groups in the State, and other issues need immediate solution.”

Speaking on the occasion, BPF president and BTC Chief Executive Member (CEM) Hagrama Mohilary said that a devise should be found out to solve the problem arising out of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, adding the BPF had been with the Congress for the past 13 years without getting any such platform.

“What we’ve got in two years from the BJP is more than what we got from the Congress in 13 years. Now also we have to get much. Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had assured us of a medical college in the BTAD. This hasn’t been done as yet. This apart, the Department of Management should be handed over to the BTC. Without this we’re forced to spend funds from other heads for disaster mitigation. Funds for the BTC should also be released on time,” he said.

Mohilary also raised the issue of militancy in the region, especially of the kind perpetrated by ULFA and NDFB in Assam. “The problem of militancy should be solved to ensure development,” he said.

Meanwhile, the BTC chief assured Shah of 100 per cent victory in the next Lok Sabha elections.