GUWAHATI, June 29: The All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and 28 other indigenous organizations of the State have issued their toughest ultimatum to the government to date – cancel the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 or face the music. They have even said that ministers and ruling party legislators in the State will be ostracized if they cannot prevail over the Centre to get the Bill cancelled.
At the call of the AASU and 28 other organizations, thousands of people came out and staged gana satyagraha in Guwahati on Friday in protest against the anti-national Bill. Besides the Axam Xahitya Xabha (AXX) and Sadou Axam Karmachari Parishad (SAKP), members of various other organizations came out spontaneously and took part in the agitation. After one-hour-and-a-half hour meeting at Latasil Filed in the city, the gathering took out a procession up to Assam Engineering Institute (AEI) Field at Chandmari.
Addressing the gathering at Latasil Filed, AASU advisor-in-chief Samujjal Bhattacharya said: “Assam has been demanding cancellation of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill for months this year. However, Dispur has been turning a deaf ear to the demand. Today, the people of Guwahati have taken to the streets. With a note of caution, I appeal to the government to take lessons from such agitations. It should respect the public sentiment. It should measure the might of the mass. Or else, it should get ready to face the music.”
Bhattacharya further said: “The government is out to make NRC update and passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill one and the same even as these two are distinctly different. While the NRC is the outcome of the Assam Agitation which is updated in accordance with the cut-off date – March 25, 1971 – as mentioned in the Accord, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill seeks to accord Indian citizenship to Bangladeshi Hindus who entered Assam after this cut-off date. We did put forward our arguments against the Bill from the NESO when the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) came to the Northeast for hearing. We dare the government prove our arguments wrong.”
Taking a dig at Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Bhattacharya said: “The Chief Minister keeps on assuaging the people of Assam not to be panicked over the Bill. The ground reality, however, is that the people of the State are a panicked lot, which is why they’ve taken to the streets in thousands. They’ve reasons to be panicked. The figures of 2011 census have corroborated this fact. The government shouldn’t test the patience of the public as its outcome is bound to be disastrous.”
Warning the State government of its suppressive policy, Bhattacharya said: “Dispur is conspiring to keep students away from agitation. I, however, appeal to the student community to take to the streets, but keeping their hard work for education intact. The former Congress Government at Dispur did play a dictatorial role leading the people of the State bade them good riddance. Don’t forget that such a fate may await you as well if you tread the path trodden by your predecessor. Our agitation is to continue till the anti-national Bill is cancelled. Before the election all leaders of the ruling coalition went door-to-door making tall promises. Promises are made to be kept. Cancel the Bill when people of the State are on the streets, failing which, they will reach the courtyards of ministers and MLAs.”
Compering the protest meeting, AASU president Dipanko Kumar Nath said: “Cancel the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or else we’ll be compelled to ostracize all ministers and MLAs of the ruling parties.”
Speaking on the occasion, AASU general secretary Lurinjyoti Gogoi said: “The BJP’s key slogan before the poll was – all foreigners would have to pack up. However, after coming to power, they are bent on bringing Bangladeshis to Assam.”
All Bodo Students’ Union (ABSU) general secretary Loren Islary, who was also present at the rally, questioned the AGP as to what it would do if the Bill got its passage. “If you can, do it now or never,” he said.
NESO president Samuel Jewra said: “The Bill is a threat to the Northeast. We won’t let it get passage.”
All Tai Ahom Students’ Union leader Manoj Baruah said: “The people of Assam are made to take to the streets time and again. Taking cue from Lachit Borphukan, we say that ‘Jatiya Yayak can’t be greater than the Jati’.”
All Assam Tribal Sangha (AATS) leader Aditya Khakhlary said that the BJP has been conspiring to rule Assam for years and on with the politics of Hinduism and Hindutva.
Leaders of the all the 29 organizations raised the question as to why Assam cannot oppose the Bill when its counterparts in Meghalaya and Nagaland have opposed it.