NEW DELHI, July 31: BJP president Amit Shah’s remarks accusing the Opposition of allegedly trying to protect illegal Bangladeshi immigrants on Tuesday caused disruption in the Rajya Sabha and subsequent adjournment of the House for the day, as the Opposition expressed concern over the Assam NRC draft that leaves out over 40 lakh people.
The matter led to repeated disruptions in the upper House of Parliament where Opposition leaders asked the government to address the issue on humanitarian basis.
Discussion on the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam – whose draft was released on Monday – was taken up suspending the Question Hour on the request of the House members.
Leaders of all parties briefly expressed their views on the issue. Towards the end, just before Home Minister Rajnath Singh was to reply, Shah spoke.
“The Assam Accord was signed by your (Congress) Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi on August 14, 1985. And he announced it from the Red Fort in his speech the next day. The spirit of the Accord was the NRC that would help identify the Bangladeshi infiltrators,” Shah said.
“You did not have the courage to implement it. We had the courage and we are doing it. Everybody here (in the Opposition) is concerned with the 40 lakh people. How many Bangladeshi infiltrators are there among these 40 lakh? Who do you want to protect? You want to protect the Bangladeshi infiltrators?” Shah said.
The Opposition MPs loudly objected to Shah’s remarks and came towards the Chairman, shouting slogans against the government and the BJP.
Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu first adjourned the House for 10 minutes. But as the House reconvened at 1.10 p.m, the Opposition MPs were on their feet again. Naidu then adjourned the House for the day.
Earlier, the Opposition MPs raised concern over Assam’s draft NRC, with Trinamool Congress leader Sukhendu Shekhar Roy pointing out that several government employees and former MPs were among the 40 lakh persons left out of the draft list of citizens.
“Even the names of people belonging to the armed forces, government offices and even former MPs have been omitted. The name of a former Deputy Speaker has also not been included. This is a motivated attempt to render lakhs of people homeless,” Roy said.
“The UN Convention on human rights, which India is a signatory to, is being violated here. That is why, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has demanded that this (the list) be withdrawn immediately,” he added.
Roy said they had no problem if illegal inhabitants were deported, but no genuine citizen must be harassed.
The Trinamool demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to the House and make a statement on the issue.
Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the issue was related to human rights and not to any specific caste, religion or a party. “Onus to prove citizenship is only on persons, but it lies with the government also,” he said. He suggested that the government provide legal assistance to those excluded but strictly adhere to 16 provisions to prove the citizenship.
Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav said no one should be deprived of his/her fundamental rights. “It needs utmost care to deal with the issue. No name should be deleted from the list in a hurry,” he said.
BPF MP Bishwajit Daimari said no Indian would be dropped out of the list. When some of the Opposition members objected to his speech, he shouted ‘leave Assam’. This led to a ruckus in the House with Opposition MPs calling his remarks as against the Constitution.
Naidu said the member uttered the words as he was provoked.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh could not make a statement on the issue in the Rajya Sabha for second consecutive day due to disruptions and adjournments. (IANS)