Silchar, May 9: Around 110 organizations of Silchar submitted their representations before the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on its second and last day study visit to the city on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2006 in the guest house of the National Institute of Technology (NIT) on Wednesday. Parties, both political and apolitical, migrants, public representatives, organizations, NGOs and all other stakeholders put forth their views and opinions on the proposed law before the JPC which was led by its chairperson Rajendra Agarwal. The three-hour long hearing began from 9 am. Representatives presented their views and opinions for and against the Bill.
Former Union minister Kabindra Purkayastha, who is also the chairperson of Barak Valley BJP Coordination Committee, said, “BJP’s stand on the issue has been clear since 1980. We are in full support of the Bill which makes provisions for giving citizenship to six communities. The fate of these people hangs in balance. We firmly and unequivocally stand in favour of the Bill, as it stands, being made into a law. The proposed Bill aims to grant and provide citizenship of this country to Hindus, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Parsis. The Bill, if passed, will safeguard the lives of people coming from neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to seek shelter and humanitarian support from India. It seems that the JPC is almost in favour the Bill.”
The Citizens’ Rights Protection Coordination Committee (CRPCC), Assam, constituted by as many as 43 various social, cultural and civil society organizations representing most of the communities of Barak Valley, as well as representations from the Brahmaputra Valley reiterated the cardinal constitutional principle that citizenship of India be not determined on the basis of place of origin, but on the basis of birth. They have suggested that the Bill needs to incorporate some amendments to Citizenship Act, 1955. Addition as Clause 8 (a) in 6A of Citizenship Act, 1955, nothing of the Clauses 1 to 6 shall apply to any person who, on account of civil disturbances or the fear of such disturbances in any area now forming part of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh, has been displaced from or has left his erstwhile place of residence in such area and who has been subsequently residing in Assam or any part of India.
It has been also stated that the Bill should incorporate a rule for providing citizenship to the Partition victims without any statutory requirements as provided to the Partition victims of West Pakistan. The clause for the proof of previous residence should be waived and the statement given by the applicant regarding his previous residence and cause of migration should be accepted unconditionally. The eligibility period for citizenship application of the victim should be a maximum of six months instead of six years as per the original Citizenship Act, 1955. There must be a specific clause in the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 that those who apply under this provision shall be given citizenship within three months from the date of application.
Section 6A of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985 and the subsequent frame-out rules, schedules etc under the 2003 and 2009 amendments should not apply to any persons who apply under the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
Expressing his views, former minister of Congress Ajit Singh said, “At the very outset, the Prime Minister of India and the Chief Minister of Assam should clear their own stands. We want provision of citizenship based on the electoral roll of 2014. The whole process should run as per the Constitution of India.”
MLA Rajdeep Goala too spoke on the same lines. Barak Upatyaka Banga Sahitya O Sankriti Sammelan, Sanskritik Samilito Mancha, Rashtra Bhasha Cha Janajati Unnayan Sangh, All Cachar-Karimganj-Hailakandi Students’ Association, Barak Nagorik Sansod, Bhasha Shahid Samarak Samiti, Virat Hindustan Sangam, Federation of Business Associations of Barak Valley Barak, Sri Gouranga Mahaprabhu Seva Sansad, Advocates’ Forum for Justice and others have supported the Bill wholeheartedly with some suggestions, proposals and amendments.
The Common People Forum (CPF), an anti-corruption organization, begged to differ and strongly objected to the Bill. It mentioned in its memorandum that Assam, being a poor and small State, is not in a position to bear any more burden of foreigners. Entertaining foreigners in a country where people are deprived of their necessities is very ludicrous and ridiculous, it said.
Later, interacting with mediapersons, Rajendra Agarwal said, “In two days, around 315 organizations of the Barak Valley have put forth their views on the Bill. We will discuss and decide it later. There are some issues which are only in Assam. The Assam Accord and the ongoing NRC update process are unique here. So we got to hear different and varied views and opinions”.