ABMSU, SIO Join Protest Against Contentious Citizenship Amendment Bill
Mumtaz Alam & Abdurrahman Aman
NEW DELHI/GUWAHATI, DECEMBER 5— As opposition parties and prominent political groups continue to protest over Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, or CAB, in various regions of the North-East, hundreds of students belonging to All BTC Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) staged a protest near the Parliament House in New Delhi on Tuesday.
ABMSU students, who had come all the way from Assam to the national Capital, were also joined by members of the Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO).
ABMSU students also submitted a memorandum to President of India Ram Nath Kovind, beseeching that CAB should not be allowed as it was “grossly against the interest of Assamese people and the Assam Accord.”
The students group also opposed BJP’s proposal to conduct a fresh NRC survey, by scrapping the previous one conducted under the supervision of the Supreme Court of India.
The CAB proposes to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955, by relaxing the eligibility rules for an immigrant belonging to six minority (non-Muslim) religions -- Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Parsis -- from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
CAB Is Against Constitution
Speaking to India Tomorrow, ABMSU general secretary Nazrul Islam said, “I oppose the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill because it is based on religion and in direct contravention to the principles of Indian Constitution based on democracy and secularism. The secularism under Indian Constitution means the state will be neutral to all religions and religious groups. But in CAB, the state is making religion the basis of granting citizenship which is unconstitutional and that is why we oppose it.”
Keep Deadline of Midnight of March 25, 1971 For Granting Citizenship
Islam said his group would not accept citizenship to anyone, Hindu or Muslim, who came to Assam after March 25, 1971. “The deadline of March 25, 1971, is part of the Assam Accord and CAB is against the Assam Accord. We reject the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill,” said Islam.
“The CAB will tear apart the social fabric of Assam and India. It is insult to 855 martyrs who fought to save the Assamese language, culture, heritage and tradition. We vehemently oppose the Bill which is inherently unconstitutional and directly violates Article 14 of the Constitution of India,” ABMSU said in its memorandum given to the office of President of India on Tuesday.
ABMSU also opposed the BJP’s proposal to go for a new NRC, by scrapping the NRC final list prepared under the guidance of the Supreme Court. NRC in Assam was upgraded as per the Assam Accord under which the cut-off date for accepting everyone as Indian citizens in Assam in March 25, 1971.
Give Hardcopy of NRC Enrolment
Islam said that all those included in NRC in Assam be given a hard copy of their enrolment. The 19-lakh people excluded from the NRC list should also be provided a hardcopy so that they can move the Foreigners’ Tribunal to fight their cases.
“Registrar General of India should issue a Gazette notification confirming the final NRC and issue National Identity Cards to all people included in the final NRC,” ABMSU demanded.
Bill is to Divert Attention from Failure of Modi Govt: SIO
SIO general secretary Syed Azharuddin, addressing the protest demonstration said, “We will oppose if NRC is carried out all over the country. We also oppose CAB as both the issues are being created to divert attention of citizens away from failure of the Narendra Modi government and create fear among masses”.
SIO general secretary Syed Azharuddin (in black jacket in front row) with members of ABMSU in New Delhi on Dec. 3, 2019.
“This Bill goes against the basic idea of India as an inclusive, diverse, secular, and democratic nation envisaged by the founding fathers of our Constitution. It is part of the agenda of communal polarization and we are sure the people of India will not fall prey to such divisive politics,” said Azharuddin.
The Assam students, who had mainly come from state’s Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) region, alleged that non-Bodos and minorities in BTC areas were not getting many of their constitutional rights like land rights and political rights.
CPI(M) To Mobilise People Against CAB
Meanwhile, CPI (M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury also announced to mobilise people against the controversial CAB, saying “the bill was unconstitutional and hence, unacceptable.” Addressing mediapersons on Wednesday, he said the citizenship could neither be determined nor linked to any religion. He said the Bill was part of a larger RSS agenda, the ideological guide of BJP, “to turn India into a Hindu Rashtra”.
CAB A Threat to Local Identity and Culture: AASU
All Assam Students’ Union(AASU) adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya told mediapersons in Guwahati that while the Assam Accord set the midnight of March 25, 1971 as cut-off date for identification and deportation of “illegal Bangladeshis” but the BJP government through CAB was trying to regularise “illegal Bangladeshi’’ up to 2014. According to Bhattacharya, CAB poses a serious threat to local identity and culture.
According to political analysts, BJP through CAB, was trying to carve out a permanent constituency of its own in North-East by granting citizenship to all “illegal Bangladeshi migrants.”
Assam Congress leader Rhituporna Konwar announced that his party would continue to oppose CAB as it was totally “unconstitutional and illegal”.
APCR Opposes NRC and CAB
Association for Protection of Civil Rights'(APCR) national convener Shoaib Inamdar, talking to India Tomorrow said that they were opposing NCR and CAB because it was against Indian Constitution. ``We will create awareness about NRC and CAB among the people all over the country, beginning from four metro cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Patna and Kolkata'', said Inamdar.
AIUDF Protests Against CAB in Guwahati
AIUDF, led by its Lok Sabha MP from Assam and a perfume baron Badruddin Ajmal, staged a protest in Guwahati on Wednesday. In a letter sent to Union Home Minister Amit shah, Ajmal said that CAB was against the Constitution of India and Assam Accord, and hence, his party opposed it.
Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chhatra Parishad and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, both led by activist Akhil Gogoi, have also declared to continue their protests against CAB.
ILP States and Areas Under 6th Scheduled Exempted from CAB
Facing strong opposition for CAB from all the North-East regions, Union Home Minister Amit Shah announced a few days ago that CAB will not be implemented in states with Inner Line Permit (ILP) system -- Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram -- and those granted autonomous administration under the 6th Schedule.
Under ILP system, even Indian Citizens would require special permit to enter these three states. If CAB is implemented with ILP system in place, the refugees granted citizenship under the new act will not be permitted to settle in ILP areas. It means Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Mizoram would not have to bear the burden of CAB. The same would apply to areas under 6th Schedule. The 6th Schedule of the Indian Constitution makes special provisions for the administration of tribal areas in four states - Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram - out of seven states in North-East to protect their language and culture.
Amit Shah, at a meeting recently, assured ministers and political representatives from areas in 6th Schedule and those under ILP system that their areas would be exempted from CAB.
Young Mizo Association general secretary Lalhmachhuana told mediapersons that representatives from his state had been assured by Amit shah that ILP states and autonomous district councils under 6th Schedule would not be affected by CAB.
NESO for ILP Extension to All North-East States
Meanwhile, North East Student’s Union (NESO), an umbrella body for students’ unions of all North-East states, has begun demanding the implementation of ILP in all states of the region. If NESO’s demand is accepted, then refugees from Bangladesh cannot be settled in any of the North-East states, creating the situation highly complex.
Tribal political parties of Tripura have also opposed the contentious Bill. The Indigenous Peoples Front of Tripura (IPFT), an alliance partner of BJP-led government in the state, and other tribal parties like Indigenous Nationalist Party of Twipra (INPT), former Tripura Congress president Pradyot Kishore Manikya Debbarma called on Home Minister Amit Shah in Delhi on November 29 and protested against CAB. IPFT also held a protest against CAB at Jantar Mantar.
IPFT representative Mangal Debbarma said, “We are totally against the Bill. If CAB is implemented in general areas of Tripura and areas reserved for tribals under 6th Schedule is example, then what is the guarantee that the refugees granted citizenship will not move over to the protected areas. There are already 2.5 lakh illegal non-tribals settled in autonomous development council areas of Tripura”.
INPT president Bijoy Kumar Hrangkhawl, opposing the Bill, said his party would continue to protest against the Bill because it was a threat to tribals living outside the tribal autonomous development council areas.