Sonowal urges peace after JPC’s visit to Assam
Guwahati, May 12 (PTI) Days after the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill visited Assam to solicit views from stakeholders, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today urged people to maintain peace and said his government would always work in their interest.
The Bill was proposed by the Centre to make illegal migrants of six communities eligible for citizenship of India.
The 16-member JPC headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agarwal had visited the state from May 7 to May 9 to elicit views from stakeholders on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which was introduced in the Lok Sabha to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955.
A key amendment in the Bill seeks to grant citizenship to people without valid documents from six minority communities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.
“People should not get agitated as the JPC process for taking their opinion is on. We will not take any decision that goes against the people of Assam,” Sonowal told media persons here.
“I appeal to all to maintain peace so that unwanted situations do not develop in the state. I urge all to help and cooperate as we the people of Assam are collectively responsible for ensuring peace and order in the state,” Sonowal said.
He said the JPC chairman had hinted that the committee would return to Assam to take the people’s opinion on the Bill.
“The people should, however, continue to express their opinion and speak their mind to the JPC chairman through e-mail,” Sonowal said.
The chief minister said that before the JPC’s visit, it was alleged that he was not allowing it to come to Assam.
“When I got the Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act repealed, no JPC had come then. This time people have been given top priority,” he said.
Protests were staged against the Bill in front of the venue where the JPC hearing was held as people feared that it would breach the clauses of the Assam Accord.
The Accord states that all illegal foreigners from Bangladesh who had settled in Assam after March 25, 1971 would have to be deported irrespective of religion.
In the Bengali-dominated Barak Valley, a majority of the 315 opinions submitted to the JPC were in favour of the Bill, and people carrying placards formed a long human chain in its support.
Leaders of the ruling BJP and the Opposition Congress supported the Bill, even as their counterparts had opposed it in the Brahmaputra Valley.
Following the JPC hearings, protests had broken out in the Brahmaputra Valley against the Bill.
Students organisations like AASU, AJYCP, ruling alliance partner AGP and the pro-talk ULFA faction organised mass agitational programmes.