Calling the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 by Lok Sabha on Tuesday as a “Black Day” for Assam and the country, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi accused the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of polarising the country on the basis of religion.
“By passing the bill, the BJP government has polarised citizens as Hindus and Muslims and accepted Jinnah’s politics of dividing the country,” the senior Congress leader stated.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016, seeking to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslims from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Tuesday among protests by opposition parties who termed the proposed law “divisive” and “flawed”.
“The bill has endangered Assam’s culture, heritage, existence for whose preservation Assam’s people have been agitating for long. Assam Accord was signed at the end of the 6-year long Assam Agitation (from 1979), 855 became martyrs during the agitation and even Congresspeople became victims,” he said.
Mr Gogoi claimed that even in the Assam Accord, those illegally coming to Assam after midnight March 24, 1971, would be detected as foreigners. “Aliens are not to be identified on the basis of religion. Our country is a secular one, it is in our Constitution’s Preamble.”
“BJP MPs, MLAs took oath accordingly. By passing the bill on the religious ground they have insulted their oath. What is the difference between them and Jinnah who partitioned India on the basis of religion,” he questioned.
Mr Gogoi, who is a former three-time chief minister of the state, alleged: “Assam is burning. BJP wants to destroy Assam and push the future of the youth to darkness”. He said “this will cause loss to both the North East region and the country. If such unrests continue, Assam will always remain disturbed and troubled”.
The senior Congress leader said this Bill is a “jumla”, through which the BJP is hoping to get Bengali talking people’s votes.
He criticized the Centre’s decision to appoint a high-level committee to go into Clause 6 of the Assam Accord as “it is already stated there that Constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards shall be given to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people.”
Mr Gogoi said Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is “misleading the people” by claiming Assam will go the Jinnah way if the Citizenship Bill is not passed. “Sarma’s claim suggests that Assamese people are weak and so need Bangladeshis to come in and strengthen them,” he said.
Mr Gogoi is known for shutting down of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) office. “NRC operation was undertaken as part of the Assam Accord. NRC will now become waste paper and of no value,” he said.
“After he (Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal) clapped when Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at Silchar on Friday that the bill will be passed by Parliament, I realized Sonowal is no longer the chief minister of Assam but a puppet chief minister of (PM) Modi.”
He said the BJP has now become Bangladesh’s party.
The role of the All Assam Students Union is vital, he said, praising it for carrying on the movement against the bill.
“This agitation has to continue peacefully and jail bharo movement has to be undertaken to save Assam and its people. The central government is fascist…Narendra Modi, Sarbananda Sonowal and Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary are dangerous and they will destroy Assam,” Mr Gogoi said.