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Opposition Fires A Volley of Queries Concerning The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Opposition Fires A Volley of Queries Concerning The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  5 Feb 2019 3:00 AM GMT

GUWAHATI: In the event of the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019, will the foreigners supposed to be Indians have rights over land? If they get all rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all Indian citizens, how can constitutional safeguards to the indigenous people of Assam become a reality? Whose rights Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is going to protect – of the Assamese or of the indigenous people of the State? Won’t the passage of the Citizenship Bill make the Assam Accord redundant? A volley of questions like these concerning the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 made the State government fumble for clear-cut responses on the floor of the State Assembly on Monday when it had to rerun its opt-repeated one-liner – “We’re committed to keep jaati, maati and bheti intact.”

In the discussion during the Question Hour based on queries regarding the implementation of the Assam Accord, Congress MLA Rakibul Hussain said: “Will the people who are supposed to get Indian citizenship after the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2019 have rights over land? Or will they have just the right to vote? If they don’t have any rights over land, the entire Citizenship Bill episode will be viewed as a game plan to garner votes.”

Hussain said: “Two of the three signatories of the Assam Accord – the then Congress government at the Centre and the AASU (All Assam Students’ Union) – have been rigid on their stand on the Accord. However, its third signatory, the government at Dispur, has wobbly feet on it.”

AGP MLA Ramendra Narayan Kalita said: “If the Bill gets its passage, the Assam Accord will be redundant. If the Centre is really serious on constitutional safeguards of the indigenous people of Assam, why hasn’t it formed the high-level committee for implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord two years back? Why is such a step taken when the Lok Sabha poll is round the corner?”

AIUDF MLA Mamun Imdadul Haque Chawdhury said: “The government says that it’ll safeguard all rights of the indigenous people of Assam. However, if the Citizenship Bill is passed, such assurances will have no bearing in the changed scenario.”

In his reply to the volley of questions, State Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary failed to give any clear-cut reply. He, however, said: “Efforts are on to define the term ‘indigenous’. We’ve to define it. Such efforts were also made earlier. The Centre announcing a high-power committee for the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord is a strong step. We’re going to implement the Assam Accord to the letter. We’re committed to keep jaati, maati and bheti intact. Earlier declared foreigners were just pushed back to Bangladesh. However, now we’re handing them over to Bangladesh police. We’ve reached an understanding.”

In the meantime, a section of MLAs from the Congress and the AIUDF said that 80 per cent of the cases being sent to the Foreigners Tribunals are declared Indians. They further said that this essentially means that the police have not been doing their job properly, and they rampantly issue notices, leading to the harassment of genuine Indians.

In his reply, Patowary said: “So far 1.03 lakh persons have been declared as foreigners, and 29,829 of them have been deported. However, the rest could not be traced.”

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