* Assam cannot take additional burden of foreigners: Atul Bora
* Centre has responded positively to our demand for scrapping the Bill: Conrad
NEW DELHI/GUWAHATI: Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday told a delegation of Northeast political leaders that he would discuss the draft law (Citizenship Amendment Bill) with other political parties and civil society organisations.
Sunday’s development could definitely give a relief to the agitators protesting against the controversial Bill.
Sangma along with other leaders from different political parties from Northeast called on Rajnath Singh at his residence and reiterated their objection over the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
The high-level delegation of the regional parties of the North East Region (NER) was led by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Konghal Sangma. It also had leaders of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) including its president Atul Bora, Prafulla Kumar Mahanta (Assam ex-Chief Minister), Keshab Mahanta, Phanibhushan Choudhury and Birendra Prasad Baishya.
“The Home Minister told us that he would discuss the draft law with other political parties and civil society organisations. I think it is a very positive indication and now everything will move forward only after detailed consultations with everyone,” said Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.
“We expressed the concerns of the people of the North East in the meeting, and got a very positive response from the home minister,” Sangma said.
Quoting the Home Minister, Sangma said that he (Home Minister) mentioned that he is taking the sentiments of the people of the North East into consideration.
The Meghalaya Chief Minister said that he was hopeful about the efforts against the Bill bearing fruit. “We will try our best to ensure that the government does not go ahead with this bill, and our opposition and our work will continue,” said Sangma.
Talking to The Sentinel after the meeting, AGP president Bora said, “We apprised Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh of the sentiment of the people of the Northeast. The Centre must withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill as it violates the spirit of the Constitution. Assam has been constituted on the basis of language and not on religion. The Bill, however, discriminates foreigners on the basis of religion. A foreigner is a foreigner. If the Bill turns into an Act, there will be a threat to the Assamese language. Besides, Assam has already taken the burden of foreigners from 1951 to 1971. Now, Assam cannot become a dumping ground for aliens for all times to come. We cannot accept any more foreigners till December 31, 2014.”
Meanwhile, Conrad Sangma told the media in New Delhi that “Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh has responded positively to our demand.”
The decision to meet the Union Home Minister was taken during a convention of the NE political parties in Guwahati on January 28. The convention convened by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma was attended Mizoram Chief Minister Zoramthanga and top leaders of ten regional parties including the AGP.
Later, in the afternoon, a delegation of North East Students’ Organisation (NESO) leaders met the Meghalaya Chief Minister at his residence in New Delhi. Conrad informed that the NESO leaders thanked the different political parties who had taken the initiative to raise the issue concerning the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.
The Meghalaya Chief Minister also expressed his gratitude to all for taking up the issue concerning the people of the Northeast.