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Assam unites against Bill

GUWAHATI, May 29: “No force on earth can impose an anti-national and unconstitutional Bill that poses a threat to our languages, literatures, cultures and identities on us,” so chorused people from all walks of life in the Northeast at AEI Field at Chandmari in Guwahati on Tuesday.

At the call of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 28 other ethnic organizations of the State, leaders of the Axam Xahitya Xabha (AXX), eight janagosthiya sahitya sabhas, writers, intellectuals, journalists, artistes, legal fraternity, educationists and common people huddled together at AEI field here and staged a mass hunger strike on Tuesday.

Addressing the gathering, noted filmmaker Jahnu Barua said: “While in France, I wrote a letter opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. If the Bill gets its passage, the Assamese will be in a serious crisis after 50 years. Marathis and Gujaratis will continue to thrive with their identities since they work hard for the protection of their communities. Compared with them, we’re scared of the future of the Assamese nationality. This is because we always keep looking at the government to do something for us. If the government doesn’t lay importance on this issue, the Assamese nationality will be history.”

Speaking on the occasion, educationist Dinesh Baishya said:
“A sad state of affairs is that we need to agitate time and again. Even after such a long agitation, the BJP doesn’t feel ashamed. They need some specific vote banks of Bangladeshis. We’re not going to let that happen.”
Noted intellectual Dr Hiren Gohain said: “Our main goal should be not to allow the Bill to be an Act. And we need to take this as our solemn pledge. Our fight is not against any religious and ethnic groups. Our struggle is against the Central government. We also take the responsibility that injustice is not meted out against legal minorities in Assam. I appeal to the youth to give society the right direction.”

Tripura Students’ Federation (TSF) adviser Upendra Debbarma said: “Assam and Tripura have been fully occupied by illegal immigrants. If this Bill gets its passage, more people will come from outside India. We’ve been facing problems. We’re a minority. Unless we fight together, it will be very difficult to get the Bill revoked.”

NESO chairman Samuel Samuel Jyrwa said: “We shouldn’t allow this Bill to pass through. We need to ensure a secure future for the next generation by not allowing them to be in minority.”

NESO secretary general Sinam Prakash said: “The entire Northeast opposes this Bill. We won’t allow the passage of this Bill. Assam and the Northeast have been affected badly by illegal Bangladeshis. Fundamentalists giving shelter to illegal Bangladeshis is a threat to us.”

Senior journalist Ajit Bhuyan said: “In the name of change the BJP is out to spell doom for Assam. They need to make a point that if they want to spell disaster for the Assamese society the people of the State will have no alternative but to topple the government. We need to be aware that the anti-people policy of the government can’t mislead us. The Assamese never trust spineless leaders.”

All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) general secretary Aditya Khakhlari said: “I tell the AGP that it’s the right time to take the decision. I appeal to the regional party to take the right decision now for the greater interest of Assam.”

Former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said: “Since its inception, the AASU has been giving strong leadership to the State. I thank the AASU leaders for playing such a leading role now. Hope that the Centre is going to revoke the Bill.”

State Agriculture Minister and AGP president Atul Bora said: “We’re with this movement called by the AASU. We’ve met the Prime Minister and the Union Minister against the Bill. We’ve also raised the issue at the recently held North East Democratic Alliance (NEDA) meet in Guwahati in front of BJP president Amit Shah. So long we’re in the government, this Bill can never get its passage. For us the chair can never be greater than the nation.”
AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said: “We’re not going to budge an inch from our stand on the Bill. By now, our agitation has reached far-flung areas in the State. We’re not going to let anyone live in peace till the Bill is revoked. We’re going to plan to lay siege on ministers and MLAs.”
AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said: “We’ve huddled together at a crucial moment. We shout in chorus now that no force can impose the Bill on us. We’re united not to let the government disarray our agitation. I want to ask the Assam government if it can take a Cabinet decision against the Bill or not. The Assam Government and other political parties will have to face dire consequences if they fail to side with the indigenous people of the State at this crucial moment.”

AASU adviser-in-chief Samujjal Bhattacharyja said: “This mass hunger strike is a warning against Dispur and Delhi that we’re not going to accept the Bill. If the Meghalaya Chief Minister and the Bihar Chief Minister can oppose the Bill, why can’t the Assam Chief Minister do it? Dispur says that it’s not going to let its opinion on the Bill known till June 30 when the second and final draft NRC is going to be published. However, the NRC and the Bill are two separate entities. We caution Dispur not to mislead the people of the State on the NRC and the Bill. Let Dispur tell Delhi that Assam isn’t going to accept the Bill.”

Former MP Kumar Dipak Das, advocate Nekibur Zaman, writer Punya Nath, Zubeen Garg and others took part in the programme.