Assam bandh: The Centre is mulling to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament.
Assam bandh: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Assam is today witnessing a 12-hour-long bandh. The strike call was given by around 60 organisations, including Congress. The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) among others have called the bandh to protest the meeting of the Joint Parliamentary Committee with the Ministries of Home and External Affairs over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
What is Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016?
The Centre is mulling to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in the upcoming Winter Session of Parliament. The bill has provisions to grant citizenship to non-Muslims from neighbouring countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan. The proposal has already evoked sharp reactions and opposition from several organisations in Assam.
The Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 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.
Strict measures taken by the government
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal-led BJP government in Assam has made adequate preparations to maintain peace and normalcy in the state, as per reports. Sonowal on Monday held a meeting with senior ministers and BJP leaders. The government employees were asked to report for duty on Tuesday. The state government has directed Police to arrest the bandh supporters. It has also directed traders to keep shops and business establishments open, failing which their trade licences will be cancelled.
The BJP leaders who met the Chief Minister yesterday also urged the government not to accord permission to a November 17 meeting of Bengali organisations in Guwahati, supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. “The proposed meeting on November 17 is likely to result in law and order issues. We will not allow the November 17 meeting,” said Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. All deputy commissioners issued orders that all shops, business establishments, educational institutions remain open, transport facilities should function normally and all government officials should attend to their duties, official sources said.
He said that according to a Gauhati High Court order, calling a bandh is illegal. “The court has termed the bandh as illegal. We have to follow the court’s order. Those calling a bandh will have to pay for the damages that they cause,” he added.
Meanwhile, various district administrations in Assam have asked all the essential service providers to continue their services on October 23 and to renounce the bandh call of different organisations. “The Police Commissioner of Guwahati, Pradip Chandra Saloi, assures that adequate security measures will be taken to ensure law and order in the district during the bandh,” a release issued by the Kamrup Metro district administration said. Police Commissioner Sri Saloi and Deputy Commissioner Virendra Mittal asked the members of different business organisations to keep their establishments open on October 23.
Worrying sign for BJP?
The partner of the BJP-led alliance government in the state Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) will organise a rally in protest against the Centre’s proposed move. The AGP has claimed that at least 50,000 people will participate in the rally. KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi claimed that they could not allow the government to make Assam a second Jammu and Kashmir or a Tripura, “where the indigenous people have become a minority.”