Row over citizenship bill in Meghalaya

Row over citizenship bill in Meghalaya

"We urge the state government to display seriousness and take a bold stand against the proposed Bill", Dai added.

"If I can not protect the people's interests, there is no point to my staying on as chief minister", Sonowal said at an informal interaction with editors and senior journalists of the state here to seek opinion on what should be done to address the continuing discontent against the NDA government's proposal to amend the Citizenship Act of 1955. Such fears among the indigenous people in Assam will become reality if we all do not stand strongly against the Bill.

Sonowal said, "There are 33 districts in the state".

The prime minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government's decision to bring modifications to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1955 to make it easier for Bangladeshi Hindus to get Indian citizenship has triggered a sharp division of opinion on linguistic lines in Assam's predominately Assamese-speaking Brahmaputra Valley and largely Bengali-speaking Barak Valley.

JPC team headed by BJP Lok Sabha member, Rajendra Agrawal, who led the team, arrived here in afternoon and started the hearing on the bill with several pressure groups and individuals at the State Convention Centre.

According to Laishram Peter, the Bill seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains from Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal. During the 80 the students' movement of Assam had raised the issue and fought with the Government.

Mr Sonowal said there are allegations against him that he was not allowing the parliamentary committee to visit Assam. They should have been living for six years in India to be eligible for citizenship.

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"On July 16, 2014, the then Congress government had taken a decision at a Cabinet meeting to grant asylum/citizenship to the (non-Muslim) immigrants of Bangladesh who migrated to Assam in the face of religious persecution.

This time, people have been given top priority", he said. "We will not take any decision that goes against the people of Assam".

Assam is always a sensitive state for its foreigner's issues.

Over 300 organisations met the JPC in Silchar on the Barak Valley leg of the visit with most demanding that the Bill be passed and how the Assam Accord is not sacrosanct like the "Quran or Bible".

AASU, bodies representing other indigenous groups, the All Assam Muslim Students' Union, and political parties, including BJP ally AGP, Badruddin Ajmal's AIUDF and Congress, have submitted that the "Assam Accord" is sacrosanct.

Without taking names, he pilloried some intellectuals with Left lineage saying those who had been critical of the anti-foreigners' agitation of early 1980s are now leading the protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

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