Assam group urges Modi to defuse tension over Citizenship Amendment Bill

Guwahati: Expressing serious concern over mounting tensions between two valleys of Assam in the recent past over Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016, a forum of patriotic people in northeast India has urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to take personal initiative in defusing relentless worries among the residents. The forum has asserted that certain anti-national elements were working against the social harmony while the state government in Dispur remains silent.

Patriotic People’s Front Assam (PPFA) has noted that on thebackdrop of New Delhi’s citizenship amendment initiative in favour of religious minorities from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, the state was witnessing an uproarious situation. Most of the Assamese speaking residents in the Brahmaputra valley are opposed to it while those in the Barak valley are opposed to it.

Lately, a section of authors, editor-journalists, former militants andsocial activists have explained the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 in a biased manner that the bill would be applicable for Assam only. Once it is passed in the Parliament millions of Hindu Bangladeshi families would arrive in the state demanding Indian citizenship and the process would continue until India is made a land of Hindus.

“A protester has the right to have his own point of view according to his/her game plan; and that also may be published in newspapers ortelecast through news channels. But the authority should promptly respond to any biased views and clarify government’s position. Otherwise, common people would be misinformed and they might get confused,” said the forum.

It expresses unhappiness that the state government was yet to makeeffective arrangements to enlighten the locals about the Citizenship Bill. The debates around the Bill continue revolving with half truths and motivated facts, which had only increased the anxiety of Assamese people in the last few months, claimed the statement. “We do not know what has prevented the state government (read Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal) from clarifying to the people that most of the agitators in the Brahmaputra valley were debating with illusionary facts. Sonowal, also in charge of home ministry and IPR, should have taken some initiatives to counter the campaign of disinformation and educate the people about the actual contents of the Bill,” added PPFA.

Many people are calling on Sonowal to clarify his stand (whether he is withthe locals or Hindu Bengalis of Bangladesh). Even separatist elements like United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent) are seeking to take advantage of the rift between Assamese and Bengali communities.

The banned militant outfit may even try to mislead the Assamese community in the Brahmaputra valley with the argument that the said Bill is an imposition of New Delhi’s will over Assam following the diktat of Bengali elements, cautioned the forum.

So, the forum has appealed to Prime Minister Modi to clarify that the said bill isnot at all Assam-centric and there is no provision for inviting Bangladeshi citizens once the bill is passed. Public meetings, advertisements in media outlets and hoardings at prominent places may be some of the effective ways for disseminating this information, said the forum adding that Modi should urgently address growing anxieties of the Assamese community.

“We prefer a healthy debate over the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016across the country. As Assam is boiling over the issue, the people here should get enlightened first about the bill so that they can participate in the debate with facts avoiding unnecessary emotions,” stated the forum. Otherwise the discourses would affect the existing communal harmony among various linguistic, religious and ethnic groups, for which Assam is known for since time immemorial, it added.