Citizenship Bill Shuts Down NE, AGP Breaks Alliance, Ministers to Resign

Protesters against the bill have accused settlers of taking away jobs from indigenous groups

"We do not want such an honour if the government introduces a Bill which facilitates entry of foreigners into Assam".

Sarangthem warned that the AMSU will launch various forms of agitations if the state's Bharatiya Janata Party-led coalition government does nothing tangible to protect the indigenous peoples.

"The BJP-led government was formed in Assam on the basis of a pre-poll alliance with the AGP".

In its 440-page report, the panel headed by BJP MP Rajendra Agrawal said, "Display of such supportive and humanitarian approach on the part of the government towards the minorities who fled the three countries, including Bangladesh, due to religious persecution is quite appreciable".

Undercutting Congress' arguments that the bill was discriminatory, Singh quoted former PMs Jawaharlal Nehru and Manmohan Singh to buttress his argument that India has the "moral obligation" to shelter refugees from neighbouring countries.

Members of Asom Yuba Chatra Parishad staged a nude protest against the Bill at Tinsukia in Upper Assam, and in Delhi, too, some of the demonstrators stripped naked outside Parliament.

"We will oppose the Bill in a bigger way now".

"We are to bring to your notice that if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed in Parliament, the provisions of Assam Accord and the ongoing preparation of National Register of Citizens will be totally frustrated and the Assamese language, culture and demography will be changed", the letter signed by Bora said. "They were determined to pass the bill so we made a decision to break the alliance", Bora said.

AGP president Atul Bora announced the decision after a meeting with Home Minister Rajnath Singh. "There is a divisive nature to this bill and the draft committee has shot down all suggested amendments", Professor Sougata Roy, a member of parliament from Trinamool Congress, said during the protest.

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The AGP and the BJP had forged an alliance in the state just before the 2016 Assembly elections with the sole objective of keeping the Congress out of power by preventing division of anti-Congress votes.

The AGP has 14 MLAs in the 126-member assembly while the BJP has the support of 74 MLAs.

Agitators clashed with the police, gheraoed Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's house at his native place in Dibrugarh, blocked national highways and damaged vehicles in Assam during the "bandh".

"We're trying to save Assam from Jinnah", BJP leader and Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, referring to Pakistan founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah who was instrumental in carving Muslim-dominated Pakistan out of India after winning independence from British colonial rule in 1947.

"We have identified the stone pelters by seeing video footage and they will be booked soon", Assam police official Surjeet Singh Panesar said.

There has been a strong opposition in Assam and other north eastern states against the bill, especially after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address in Silichar last Friday when he said,"The Citizenship Bill is an atonement of the wrong that was done during India's Partition".

The bill seeks to give citizenship to Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Parsis from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh, who came to India before December 31, 2014. But Singh told us clearly that it will be passed in Lok Sabha tomorrow.

Ruling BJP's ally IPFT's Assistant General Secretary Mangal Debbarma told IANS that they have extended moral support to the NESO's shutdown in the northeastern region comprising seven states, excluding Sikkim.

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