Patriotic People’s Front Assam calls for healthy debate on citizenship bill

Guwahati, December 25: Expressing absolute annoyance over a section of Assamese intellectuals and civil society groups for projecting the Citizenship Amendment Bill  2016 in a bias perception, the Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) has emphasized on a healthy debate over the matter.

The forum of patriotic people, in a statement, pointed out that those motivated elements had been claiming, as if, the concerned bill is Assam centric and once it turns into a law, millions of Bengali Hindu people from Bangladesh would be dumped in the state and even the practice will continue for decades.

“Those biased individuals have cleverly concealed that the asylum seekers belonged to Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, Christian, Jain and Parsi communities had already taken shelter in India and there is no provision in the amendments to bring more Bangladeshi (or Pakistani and Afghan national) after December 31, 2014,” said the PPFA statement. Moreover, they are not merely Bengali Hindus, but a mix of Rajbongshi, Hajong, Jayantiya, Bishnupriya, Chakma, Garo, Khasi and Adivasi people. We should not forget that all these people became the victims of Pakistan’s partition game plan and had to live in a foreign land, for the creation of which they were not responsible at all, added the statement.

The forum also urged the state Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, also in charge of Information & Public Relations, to clarify the content of the bill seeking to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 with the provisions to grant citizenship to those persecuted religious minorities from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh after due processes, so that the indigenous populace do not get misguided.

Extending supports to the Centre’s initiative, the PPFA however raised voices for equal distribution of those asylum seekers from the neighbouring countries across India. Moreover, those who prefer to stay legally in Assam, the forum would like to urge them to adopt the Assamese language as their medium of instructions. “Adopting the Assamese language as the medium of official language by those settlers would help in promoting the Assamese culture and also contributing for a stronger and safer India. Their goodwill shall also remove the linguistic threat perception to the indigenous populace of Assam” asserted the statement.

The PPFA also reiterated its old stand to detect all immigrants from the then East Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) with the cut-off year of 1951 as it is applicable to the entire nation. The organisation also urged the Union government in New Delhi to consider offering work permits, without voting rights, to those immigrants in case their deportation becomes impossible due to serious humanitarian and international crisis. Weighing for 1951 as the base year to detect the foreigners, the PPFA argued that the spirit of Assam Movement (1979 to 1985) was to deport all foreigners since 1951, for which over 850 martyrs, Khargeswar Talukdar being the first, sacrificed their lives. It clarified that the immigrants who entered India after 1951 till December 16, 1971 should be treated as East Pakistani nationals, as Bangladesh emerged as a sovereign nation only after December 16 (not on March 25, 1971 as often reported in the media) following the surrender of Pakistani forces under the leadership of AAK Niazi to the Bangladesh Mukti Bahini.

(The statement was endorsed by Rupam Barua, Ankur Bora, Anjana Bora, Nava Thakuria, Pramod Kalita, Jagadindra Raichoudhury, Jahnabi Goswami, Nayan Prasad, Devol Nath, Anup Sarma, Oken Jeet Sandham, Ujjal Saikia, Rubee Das, Namrata Datta, Babita Sarma, Mridul Kumar Chakrabarty, Biswajit Nath, Kishor Bhuyan, Indranil Kalita, Bidhayak Das, Kishour Giri, Ravindra Nath, Utpal Parashar, Anirban Choudhury, DN Singh, Samya Bharadwaj, Smriti Divya Barua, Sabyasachi Sharma, Dipankar Baruah, Rajib Chowdhury,  Manikankan Barooah, Samin Deka, Sanjib Kalita, Monalisa Mahanta, Manoj Khandelwal, Kumarjit Sarma, Kuntala Chakrabarty, Mrinmoy Buragohain for the PPFA)

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