Citizenship Act amendment bill threatens Assamese culture: Mahanta

After former chief minister Tarun Gogoi and the All Assam Students Union, another former CM of Assam and chief adviser of Axom Andolan Sangrami Mancha Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on October 18 protested against the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants, saying it will jeopardize Assamese language and culture.

Addressing a press conference here, Mahanta expressed anguish at the proposed amendment of the Citizenship Act, 1955. The Amendment Bill is currently under consideration of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

“If citizenship is granted to Bangladeshis by amending the Act, the historic Assam Accord will be rendered invalid and it will be an anti-indigenous people move,” said Mahanta.

He said that the Assam Accord was placed in Parliament on August 16, right after it was signed on Independence Day in 1985 and every organization as well as the people of Assam accepted the accord.

“If the amendment Bill is passed, it will be a complete violation of provisions of the Accord,” he pointed out, warning, “Every organization in the State should now agitate against the Centre’s move. If citizenship is granted to Hindu Bangladeshi immigrants, Assamese language and culture will face existential crisis.”

The former chief minister demanded the Central government withdraw the Bill, taking into account the sentiment of the people of Assam.

Speaking at the press conference, former MP and chief convener of Axom Andolan Sangrami Mancha, Kumar Deepak Das said, “We will in no way accept this move. We have already filed a PIL in Gauhati High Court against the Centre’s move to grant citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants. We will never let the sacrifices of martyrs of the Assam Movement go in vain.”

Taking a dig at former CM Tarun Gogoi, Das said that he has no moral right to oppose the Centre’s move. “Gogoi has now taken an opposite stand. When his government was in power, they expressed their desire to welcome Bangladeshis. Gogoi himself had said in Silchar that they will allow Bangladeshis to stay on in Assam on humanitarian ground. Gogoi is responsible for the situation which is arising today,” Das added.