Asserting that Assam is not a dumping ground, the All Assam Students Union (AASU), on July 3 urged the central government to implement the 1985 Assam Accord that bars illegal immigrants from enjoying citizenship rights, irrespective of their faith, in the Northeast state.
The demand comes in the wake of a controversy that arose after an amendment was proposed in the Citizenship Act, 1955, by the BJP-led central government in 2016, proposing grant of citizenship rights to all “persecuted” religious minorities (barring Muslims) from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, AASU chief advsier Samujjal Bhattacharya said: “Assam is not a dumping ground for illegal immigrants. All our borders and lands are encroached by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and today the demographics of Assam have changed. We have become a minority in our own motherland and have been taking this burden since 1971.”
Terming the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, a threat to Assam’s identity, Samujjal said that the bill “violates” the secular spirit of the Indian Constitution as it allows illegal immigrants on the basis of religion.
“This fight is not about Hindus or Muslims – it is about illegal immigrants,” he added.
Holding past governments responsible for the delay in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC), AASU general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi said: “The NRC was prepared in 1951, but has not been updated by past government for their vote-bank politics.”
He said that a series of protests in Assam made the central government update the NRC, which is the only safeguard for the indigenous people in the state.
“The Supreme Court is monitoring the whole process. The final draft of the NRC will be published by July 30,” he added.