Meeting in support of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 opposed

A meeting called by 26 Bengali organisations in Guwahati in support of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 in November has sparked tension in the Brahmaputra valley of Assam.

Citizen Right Protection Forum, Assam, the joint platform of the 26 Bengali organisations, has called the meeting at the Veterinary College playground at Khanapara in Guwahati on November 17.

Organisations like Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, All Moran Students’ Union, All Tai Ahom Students’ Union and pro-talk Ulfa along with political party like the Opposition Congress have opposed the meeting fearing that it will divide the society on linguistic line. The organisations support the midnight of March 24, 1971 as cut off date for detection and deportation of foreigners as decided by the Assam Accord.

On the other hand, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians who fled religious persecution in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan and entered India before December 31, 2014.

The bill welcomed in Bengali-dominated Barak valley and is opposed in the Brahmaputra valley.

Oikya Sena Asom, a Guwahati-based social organisation set up in 2016, had recently threatened that it will go to any extent to foil the November 17 meeting. “We will foil the meeting at any cost,” Kamal Kumar, chief spokesperson of the organisation, told the media.

At least 11 organisations on October 19 urged the people of the state to come forward to foil the November 17 meeting. The organisations told the media that the 26 organisations have support of the state government.

The BJP-led Assam government had been keeping mum on the bill for long. However, the BJP in a recent executive meeting in Majuli expressed its support to the bill prompting the leader in Assam Legislative Assembly, Debabrata Saikia, to accuse the saffron party of “insulting and betraying” the people who had voted it to power believing its slogan “jati, mati aru bheti.”

Former Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday demanded the state government to dissuade the 26 organisations from organising the meeting.

Ulfa leader Anup Chetia has told the media that the meeting may create a law and order problem.

In May, the Ulfa had called a meeting in Cachar district of Barak Valley opposing the bill. But the Cachar district administration did not give permission for it.

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