Once again, people are carrying out massive protests in Assam and other parts of Northeast against the proposed Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. The Centre is set to pass the Bill in the winter session of Parliament as protests are intensifying in the region.
Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma recently said that the Bill would be tabled in the Rajya Sabha by December 10th, 2019.
Though the students’ bodies and civil organisations are claiming that the Bill will violate the Clause 6 of the historic Assam Accord, the Minister said that the recommendation by the high-level committee on Clause 6 would be implemented in letter and spirit.
It is also being said that the Northeast states under Inner Line Permit regime and those under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution would not come under the ambit of the Bill.
The Bill – a major Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) plank – seeks to grant Indian citizenship to the people belonging to the Hindus, Jains, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Parsis who have become the victims of religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan and entered India on or before December 31st, 2014.
The BJP-led NDA government had introduced the Bill in its previous tenure. Though the Bill was passed by the previous Lok Sabha in January 2019, it lapsed in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill was then referred to a Joint Committee of Parliament.
The introduction of the controversial assumes great significance as Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said that the Centre will introduce the National Register of Citizens exercise across the country
to weed out illegal citizens but only after the Bill is passed.
Though the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government has rejected Centre’s proposal for nationwide NRC, Congress in Assam is protesting against the state government’s demand to scrap the recently published NRC. Shah on December 2nd, 2019 stated that the NRC exercise would be rolled out before the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.