Assam Congress extends “ideological support” to bandh on October 23

Guwahati, October 21: Assam Congress today extended “ideological support to the 46 organisations that have called off a bandh on October 23 protesting against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.

The congress along with its legislative party for opposition today said that if the Bill is passed, it will nullify the Assam Pact 1985.

“Assam Pact was signed because the then congress Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had understood the gravity of migrant infiltration problem and the pact was accepted unanimously by all the organizations and political parties back then. Now if this bill is passed, it will not only nullify the pact but also the very thing that the pact has protected so far – Assam’s identity,” APCC president Ripun Bora told media here today.

“We had been against the bill since the beginning and we will extend our ideological support to the 46 organisations for their stand,” Bora added.

Assam Pact, 1985 that was signed after six-year-long Assam agitation was signed between the agitators and Union Government in the presence of Rajeev Gandhi admits citizenship to those who have come before March 24, 1971 as Indian citizen.

The amendment bill, on the other hand proposes to provide citizenship to the religious minorities – Hindu, Sikh, Biddhist, Jain Christian – from neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan before 2014.

Opposition leader Debabrata Saikia said, “The introduction of bill will by pass the Assam Pact’s Article 6 that allows political and cultural safeguard to the people of Assam. The Assames culture and identity as a whole will be in danger with the bill.”

After receiving widespread protest in Assam, a Joint Parliamentary Committee was formed to get public consent on the bill. The JPC had recently come to Assam too.

“Now the BJP is planning to table the bill on the next session of parliament. The JPC has not even gone to all the places in the country and it has not filed its report. Without JPC report if the Centre decides to pass the bill, then what was the meaning of forming the JPC? It was just an eye wash for us,” Bora further alleged.

Taking a dig on the Asom Gana Parishad, the party that formed government here after the agitation and now one of BJP’s alliance, Bora said, “Why isn’t AGP severing its ties with the BJP? The identity of Assamese and the fiht against infiltration had always been their (AGP) poll plank. Why re they mum now?? They are saying if the bill is passed, they will come out of alliance. But by then, the damage would already have been done.