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Assam: Government's move to grant citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis draws flak
It was under the aegis of the All Assam students' Union (AASU) that the indigenous people of Assam around three and half decades ago struggled, peacefully demanding detection and deportation of the illegal foreigners settled in the state in a row which lasted six years resulting in signing of the historic Assam Accord in 1985.

However now, the AASU along with all the pressure groups as well as the Assamese intelligentsia have protested against the state BJP-led government's latest move to hasten citizenship to Hindu Bangladeshis who had settled in the state till December 2016. 

According to the Assam Accord, no illegal foreigner who came here after 24 March, 1971, irrespective of religion should be permitted to stay in the state permanently. It had been obeyed by the previous governments as sacrosanct. But surprisingly, the present state government, reportedly, tried whimsically to dilute the provisions, especially the section six of the Accord. The Assam Accord was inked between the Government of India and the AASU.

Ironically, Sarbananda Sonowal, the present chief minister of the state, once led the students' outfit as its president.

The Asom Gana Parishad, a coalition partner of the state's BJP-led government, has also categorically marked protests against the government's move to granting citizenship to the Hindu Bangladeshis. In a party meeting held recently, its president as well as the state's Agriculture minister Atul Bora criticized the Sonowal government's latest move.

Asom Gana Parishad, a regional political party, is the result of the six year-long Assam Movement as well as the Assam Accord and has also ruled the state twice. In the meantime, the party clarified that it would not second the government's controversial move. Similarly, the AASU; Asom Jatiyatavadi Yuva-chatra Parishad, a non-political outfit which also took active part in the Assam Movement; Krishak Mukti Sangram Parishad and other indigenous organizations besides Opposition parties like the Congress, CPI, and CPI (M), among others have raised strong voice against the government's move to grant citizenship to the illegal Hindu Bangladeshis.

Interestingly, Ram Prasad Sharma, BJP MP from Tezpur in Assam, courting a major controversy, a few days ago told media that a clandestine unwritten pact had been signed between the government and the AASU and some other pressure groups of the state for granting citizenship to the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants. The AASU, as expected, recently staged protests across the state condemning the MP's comment. However, creating controversy is not new for MP Sharma. A few months ago, the ruling party MP had levelled allegation of corruption against the state's irrigation minister Ranjit Dutta, which was later trivialized by the government as well as his party. The government has refrained from instituting any inquiry against the minister based on the allegation levelled by the MP.

The NDA government at the Centre, reportedly, has taken the decision to table the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in Parliament during the on-going winter session to grant Indian citizenship to those who fled to India facing religious persecution in the neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Central government earlier, reportedly, had formed a committee to take opinion from leaders of the pressure groups and prominent persons, who represent the indigenous people of Assam regarding the bill. But the task is yet to be done. This may happen because a draft of the National Registrar of Citizenship (NRC) with respect to the state of Assam would be published on or before December 31. The NRC has been updating the state under the supervision of the Supreme Court. The SC, hearing a plea, of late strictly directed the state NRC co-ordinator to publish the draft NRC without delay on or before December 31.

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