Assam Govt allays fear on Citizenship Bill 2016

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This was Sonowal's first statement since the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the bill started holding public hearings in the northeast five days ago, which triggered a division of opinion between the people of the Brahmaputra Valley, who opposed the bill, and those in the Barak Valley, who supported it. We appeal to people to keep faith in the government... At a press conference on Saturday, Sonowal said he will step down as Chief Minister if he failed to protect the rights of the citizens of Assam.

Saikia emphasized that the Chief Minister needed to take the initiative in this matter because he was the Leader of the House and dates for Assembly sessions and list of business, etc. are fixed as per his advice to the Governor and Speaker.

The objective of the JPC to meet various stakeholders was to obtain feedback from the migrants, if any, belonging to religious minority communities of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh i.e Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians residing in the State of Meghalaya and other stakeholders in connection with the examination of "The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016".

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Meanwhile, Assam police on Thursday interrogated senior Congress leader and former minister Ardhendu Dey at Hojai on charges of his alleged attempt to incite communal tension while advocating citizenship for Hindu Bengali who came from Bangladesh because of religious persecution. By taking the opinion of the people of Assam, we will take a decision on the issue.

A large number of people of the state have protested against granting of Indian citizenship to Hindu foreigners as it would threaten the existence of the indigenous people of Assam.

Sonowal said there was an allegation against him that he was not allowing the JPC team to visit Assam.

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The Bill has been introduced in the Lok Sabha with an aim to provide citizenships to persecuted minorities from the neighbouring countries after at least six years of their residence in India.

Speaking to media persons after meeting the Committee North East Students' Organisation (NESO) Chairman Samuel Jyrwa asserted that the organization strongly opposed the Bill which, if passed, would drastically affect the indigenous population of the North East region. "We will not take any decision that goes against the people of Assam".

While the hearing was in progress, Khasi Students Union activists staged a lightning protest in the premises of the venue, and raised banners and placards to register their protest against the bill.

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Hailing Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma, the office bearers of NESO, urged upon all the CMs of NE to follow his footsteps and oppose the bill tooth and nail. "The JPC has not taken any decision as the hearings are not yet over".

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