Assam Agitation martyrs’ families return mementos over Citizenship Bill

The family members of the martyrs of Assam Agitation have returned the awards which were given to them as a mark of honour by the Sarbananda Sonowal-led government in 2016. The family members said that they felt insulted after the BJP-led government decided to go ahead with the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.

“It’s enough. We have realised that the BJP government and chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal has no intention to withdraw the bill but they are more focused in passing the bill. Under such circumstances, we can’t sit silently. This means they (government) have no respect for the martyrs who sacrificed their lives to make the state free from illegal migrants,” said Chandrakanta Talukdar, kin of Khargeswar Talukdar, the first martyr among the 855 lives sacrificed in the six-year-long Assam Agitation (1979-85).

The Assam Accord was signed after the agitation in 1985 which fixes March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date irrespective of religion, caste and creed. The groups and organizations who have been opposing the bill unanimously agree to this cut-off date.

Talukdar, who is the general secretary of Sadou Asom Jatiya Swahid Pariyal Somonnorokhyi Parishad (All Assam Martyrs’ Families Coordination Council), said that on Wednesday 76 families of the martyrs have returned their mementos to the deputy commissioner’s office in Guwahati.

“As a member of the central committee, district representatives have returned the mementos in the first phase. Gradually, the other families too will follow this step across the state,” Talukdar said.

Forum’s president Rajen Deka was also present during the event. Now, the family members of the martyrs will also take part in the agitation.

Deka said that they have already written to Union home minister Rajnath Singh. “We waited thinking that Sonowal would come up strongly and oppose the bill. But it’s saddening to see his weak stand and silence over the matter. We already sent a memorandum to him demanding a discussion with us. But that didn’t happen. Very soon, we will go to Delhi to meet the top leaders and ministers for the cause,” said Deka.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), an outcome of the agitation, too supported the cause of the family members.

“We are with them. It’s very unfortunate that the government has not understood the value of their sacrifices. We are with the families of the martyrs at every step,” said AGP president Atul Bora outside the ongoing budget session of assembly.

The BJP-led Assam government just after coming to power had decided to honour the families of the martyrs on December 10 in 2016 in a grand meeting at Khanapara.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, which was already passed in the Lok Sabha, endorses citizenship to Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Jain and Parsi migrants who have faced religious persecution and have come to India till December 31, 2014.