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JPC Silchar hearing elicits support for Bill

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal’s all-out efforts and achievements in bringing people of the Brahmaputra and the Barak Valleys together are back to square one with the JPC hearing on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill exposing the opposite stands taken on the Bill by the two valleys. If the people of the Brahmaputra Valley showed their total solidarity against the Bill in Guwahati on Monday, the people of the Barak Valley showed the same solidarity supporting the Bill on Tuesday. The reappearance of such a divide between the two valleys does not augur well for the State.

Correspondent
Silchar, May 8: The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on its five-day visit to Assam and two-day maiden visit to Barak Valley conducted its hearing on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in the guest house of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Silchar on Tuesday. The JPC conducted hearings from migrants, public representatives, NGOs and other stakeholders from the districts of Karimganj and Hailakandi regarding the various provisions of the Bill. The hearing started from around 4 pm in the afternoon. A total number of 357 organizations and groups from Barak Valley put forth their views before the JPC and submitted their memorandums.
 Eighty-eight organizations from Karimganj district and 109 from Hailakandi district met the JPC on Tuesday. A total number of 153 organizations from Cachar will present their views and opinions for and against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 on Wednesday. The proposed Bill aims to grant and provide citizenship of this country to six communities, Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. The Bill, which is to be passed and is under consideration, is important to safeguard the lives of people coming from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek shelter and humanitarian support from India.
 Bishwaroop Bhattacharjee, vice president, BJP, Dr Rajdeep Roy, spokesperson, Assam Pradesh along with other frontline leaders of state and district committees of BJP were present at the NIT. Dr Rajdeep Roy said, “Our stand regarding the Bill is clear. We support the provision of citizenship to the people belonging to the religious minorities who came to India after March 24, 1971.” Sipra Goon, secretary, Mahila Morcha, BJP central committee along with MLAs Amarchand Jain, Aminul Haque Laskar, Mihir Kanti Shome and Kishore Nath and leaders of BJP district committees of Karimganj and Hailakandi were also present.
 MLA Kamalakhya Dey Purkayastha said, “Citizenship of Assam as well as of the whole country should be granted to those who are still coming to India due to religious persecution.”
The JPC team is being led by Meerut MP Rajendra Agarwal. The high officials who are in the team include Bharati Chanda, Deputy Registrar General, Dr Anju Rathi Rana, joint director and legal advisor, Y Srinivas Rao, Deputy Legislative Council, Arun Kumar Chatterjee, joint director, (PSP), Anil Malik, joint director (Foreigners), Satyendra Garg, joint director (Northeast) B C Joshi, director (Immigration), S C Solanki, section officer, the Parliament and M K Tiwari, assistant section officer (Citizenship).
 A large of people formed a human chain before the NIT in support of the Bill on Tuesday morning. In addition to this, various organizations of Karimganj district took out a torch rally in support of the Bill on Monday night. A large number of people, irrespective of religion, caste, community and creed, took an active participation in the torch rally. The four JPC members from Assam include Sushmita Dev, Ramen Deka, Kamakhya Prasad Tasha and Bhubaneswar Kalita.
 Keeping in mind the sensitivity and graveness of the JPC visit, additional security forces have been deployed. ADGP Harmit Singh, DIG Debraj Upadhaya, and Cachar SP Rakesh Roushan, along with other military and paramilitary forces, are responsible for tight security. Fifty-one staff members of the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Cachar have been deployed at the NIT for the said purpose. Till filing of the report, no untoward incident was reported.