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‘Why look at everything through Bill-tinted lens?’

Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, May 31: ASSU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyja is baffled as to why the government looks at distinctly different issues like NRC and constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of Assam only through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-tinted glasses.

The student leader said this on Thursday while reacting to the response Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal elicited from Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh at a meeting in New Delhi on Wednesday. Sonowal had requested Singh at the meeting to form a committee to make recommendations for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. In his response to the Chief Minister’s plea, the Union Home Minister said that the committee would be formed at the earliest possible.

Talking to The Sentinel on the issue on Thursday, Bhattacharjya said: “NRC update, providing constitutional safeguard to the indigenous people of Assam and the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 are three distinctly separate issues. I fail to understand why the government continues to look at NRC update and providing constitutional safeguards to the local people of the State only through the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill-tinted glasses. The Chief Minister requested Singh to form a committee to safeguard the indigenous people of the State on Wednesday. In 1999, during the AGP rule in Assam, the government at the Centre had formed a cabinet sub-committee to look into the matter. The committee was headed by Joint Home Secretary GK Pillai. The cabinet sub-committee almost gave a final shape to the issue, including reservation of seats for the indigenous people of the State. However, the matter fell short of getting the final touch with the AGP government not pursuing it. When Pillai became Union Home Secretary, he again raised the matter afresh only to leave it without giving the final touch. Even at the tripartite talks involving Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, the Assam Government and leaders of the AASU in 2017, a decision was taken to revive the cabinet sub-committee. A year has elapsed since then, but the Centre hasn’t taken any steps towards that end.”

Bhattacharjya further said: “Even after 33 years of signing the Assam Accord, not a single problem afflicting Assam has been solved permanently. During the past 33 years, the government at the Centre only held talks and gave us bountiful assurances. Our stand is crystal clear. We want 100 per cent reservation for the indigenous people of Assam on all fronts. This is our due. In what way are Clause 6 of the Assam Accord and the NRC update exercise related to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill? We want to make it very clear that Assam can’t shoulder the burden of any Bangladeshis who entered Assam after March 25, 1971.”