Citizenship Bill
Assam Industry and Commerce minister Chandra Mohan Patowary addressing a press conference in Guwahati on Friday. Photo credit: UB Photos

In the wake of recent protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, the Assam government on Friday refused to take any decision like Meghalaya which opposed the bill.

“We it will not do anything which is detrimental to the interest of the state but the government is also not going to take any decision like Meghalaya which opposed the bill,” Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said in a news conference here.

The Meghalaya cabinet on May 8 decided to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, proposed by the Centre.

“The Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 is interacting with people and organisations. We have requested the JPC to visit Assam and interact with the people again,” said minister Patowary.

He said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was following the democratic norms despite having a majority in the Lok Sabha.

If passed, the bill would grant non-Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan Indian citizenship — given they have completed six years in the country.

“When Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act, 1983 was imposed on Assam, did the then Congress government take the views of the people of Assam? However in case of Citizenship Bill, views of people are being taken by the JPC.” The minister urged the political parties to not politicize the bill.

Slamming the Congress for showing double standard, Patowary said while Congress leaders in Guwahati are opposing the bill, its leaders in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley are supporting it.

The minister said in 2012, then Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi submitted a memorandum to then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, pleading that Indian citizens who had to flee due to religious persecution and discrimination at the time of partition should not be treated as foreigners on humanitarian grounds.


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