R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Jan 10 - Though the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 was not passed by the Rajya Sabha yesterday, there is nothing to be elated about and North East region wide movement will continue till the Bill is scrapped, asserted the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU). The student’s body also strongly criticized Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who is a former president of the AASU, for his failure to take a bold stand in the interest of the indigenous people of the State.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said that though the Bill was not passed by the Rajya Sabha due to strong stand adopted by the opposition parties, there is nothing to be elated about as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) might try to pass it in the next session of the Parliament. He asserted that democratic movement against the Bill would continue all over the North East region till it is withdrawn by the Government.
Bhattacharya said that even before the submission of the report by the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced in Silchar that the Bill would be passed. Moreover, seven states of the North East were paralysed during the bandh called by the North East Students’ Organization (NESO), AASU and 30 organizations representing different ethnic groups of Assam on January 8, while, the opposition parties and even some of the allies of the NDA had also opposed the Bill. But the BJP showed its autocratic behaviour by forcefully passing the Bill in the Lok Sabha, he pointed out. He asserted that the people of the North East would not tolerate such political injustice and strong regionwide movement would continue.
At the same time, efforts would be made to launch awareness campaign against the anti-national activity of the BJP led Government. The AASU and other organizations have decided to build public opinion against the Bill in the entire country so that the Centre cannot try to pass it in the next session of the Parliament, which will be the last during the tenure of the present Government. Bhattacharya said that if the Bill is passed, the AASU would look for legal options to protect the interests of the indigenous people of Assam and other states of the region.
Hitting out against Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the AASU chief adviser pointed out that the Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Mizoram took bold stand against the Bill despite the fact that their parties are partners of the NDA. “The Chief Ministers of Meghalaya and Mizoram took bold stand against the Bill in the interest of the people of their states. But unfortunately, the Assam Chief Minister failed to do so to protect the interests of the indigenous people. The Centre would not have tried to impose the Bill if the Chief Minister had taken a bold stand,” he added.
Replying to a question on whether the agitation against the Bill would harm the careers of students of the State, Bhattacharya admitted that the students lost one year during the Assam movement. He said that the AASU has learnt the lesson from that and said that the students would have to carry forward the movement without affecting their academic careers. He said that the AASU would have discussions with cross sections of the society including guardians to formulate strategies to ensure that the careers of the students are not affected due to the movement against the Bill.