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Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 : Our Identity and Culture is at stake

By- Rini Kakati

On Tuesday, when I was on my way home after attending a discussion meeting on Brexit at Central London. I  had a shock to hear the decision of Rajnath Singh, Union Home Minister to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. It will be alarming for the people of Assam is that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is implemented in Assam, it will totally destroy the Assam as we know it and pose a major threat to the Assamese language and culture. But, one small consolation has been offered to Assam - the Centre has approved the proposal to notify six communities from Assam as Schedule Tribes. The communities are  Koch-Rajbongshis, 36 Tea Tribes, Tai Ahoms, Morans, Motoks and Chutiyas.
Few years back, Former Union Home Secretary GK Pillai when he said, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 will go against the Assam Accord and the NRC update. In fact, it will turn the highly expensive NRC update process into a totally meaningless effort.
We are sadden by such a move to undermine the needs of the indigenous people of Assam. The Centre do not approve of individual like Dr. Hiren Gohain, prominent Assam academic, Samujjal Bhattacharya, AASU Leader, Akhil Gogoi, KMSS Leader and Manjit Mahanta, journalist who stood up for the cause.
This was predicted by Late Former Governor of Assam Lt Gen SK Sinha as patriot in 1998 that if infiltration of foreigns nationals from Bangladesh is not checked, the situation in Assam would soon be worsen than that of Kashmir  and even a Bangladeshi national can become the Chief Minister of Assam in course of time. Lt Gen SK Sinha even sent a detailed report to the President of India in November 1998 highlighting the problem along with his suggestions to deal with the problem, but unfortunately, no remedial action was taken. 
So, setting up a high-level committee for the implementation of Clause 6 of the Assam Accord means absolutely nothing in the context of the plan hatched by the Centre. Their intention is to grant Indian citizenship to millions of Bangladeshi Hindus in the Barak Valley who have literally been given a welcome call to migrate to India and to put an end to Assam and the Assamese.
They could do it, knowing our inability to stand our ground against the machinations of other communities due to the poor strength of the Assamese. There is always competition form an ever-increasing number of people from other States settling in Assam. The majority expatriates will come from Bangladesh and they will all make a beeline for Assam which is nearer to their country than any other State of India barring Tripura and Bengal.

How can we forget that the BJP came to power in Assam with the promise of implementing the Assam Accord. We all expected Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was once a president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), to play a major role in implementing the Assam Accord. But he is doing the opposite. That is where we are hurt.
Our question is of how far any political party can go on breaking promises in a democracy without the consent of the people who are about to be directly affected by a newly imposed black law and moral right to take such high-handed draconian steps against its own people? . The upcoming violent protests and demonstrations of anger take us all back to 1979 AASU Movement, when the indigenous people of Assam launched a peaceful and democratic agitation demanding detection and deportation of those millions of East Pakistanis / Bangladeshis.
We have to identify ourselves as Assamese rather than dividing ourselves in various sections in front of the whole nation. AASU, KMSS, AJYP and other organizations must come under one umbrella keeping the greater interest of Assam. Our unity should be intact to send away all moves of the government of the day to decimate us.
Assamese always have to fight for their rights. The rest of the other states could not be bother when Nehru had bid farewell to the people of Assam and the Northeast when the Chinese occupied Bomdila in 1962?
Both Meghalaya and Manipur have rejected the Bill outright and that even allies of the BJP like the Shiv Sena and the Janata Dal have decided to oppose the Bill. Although they know that the Bill is not going to affect the mainland States of the Indian Union. But knowing the consequences they are aware that this undemocratic and anti-people measures like the enactment of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 could well be extended to any parts of the States and their people.
Our appeal to younger generation not to neglect studies, exams, attending school and colleges in the name of protest: strike, Assam bandh, hunger strike, road blockade etc. In the past we have seen it lost their relevance. Those culminated in wastage of time and energy only.
Now that Dhiren Bezbaruah, Nagen Saikia, Rongbong Terang and Mukunda Rajbonghshi have decided to quit the Centre’s panel on Clause 6 of the Assam Accord, we are urging them to arrange a round table conference in Delhi to discuss with the Central Government directly including our Chief Minister and  Himanta Biswa Sarma, Finance Minister. Only meaningful discussion and compromise may well get through to them hopefully !

Rinku Khumukcham

Rinku Khumukcham, Editor of Imphal Times has more than 15+ years in the field of Journalism. A seasoned editor, was a former editor of ISTV News. He resides in Keishamthong Elangbam Leikai, with his wife and parents.

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