GUWAHATI, May 16 - Former Arunachal Pradesh Governor and Chief Secretary of Assam, JP Rajkhowa, in an open letter to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, has urged the latter to withdraw the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 in view of the existential threat posed to the Assamese people by the proposed legislation.
Rajkhowa said the sentiments, emotions and concerns of the majority population of Assam, and more particularly the serious apprehensions of the indigenous people on likely annihilation of their language, identity, culture, ethnicity, etc., must be honoured and the Bill withdrawn.
“Ill-planned efforts are being made to open the floodgate for entry of illegal Hindu migrants into Assam from across the borders, apart from legalising those who had already entered the State illegally and settled here for just six years, violating the cut-off date of the Assam Accord,” he said.
Pointing out that Assam had already borne the brunt of illegal migrants from erstwhile East Pakistan during the 1947 post-partition times, the 1965 Indo-Pak War and the Bangladesh Liberation War, resulting in its creation in 1971 which, according to former Union Home Minister Indrajit Gupta, will be several millions, Rajkhowa said after the signing of the historic Assam Accord, there had been overall peace and tranquillity in the State, but the Citizenship Bill threatens to trigger chaos and conflict in the region.
Refuting the argument made by some BJP politicians that the proposed Bill is not Assam-specific and that it aims at giving citizenship to illegal minority migrants from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Rajkhowa said once granted citizenship, they would become Indian citizens, and would have every right to come and settle in Assam, as the State does not have the Inner Line Permit (ILP) system, as in force in Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, which restricts the entry of ‘outsiders’ into these States.
“As West Bengal and Tripura have already announced their inability to accept the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants, irrespective of their religions, most of the Hindus, after getting Indian citizenship, would, in all likelihood, enter Assam,” he observed, adding that the indigenous Assamese would become minority then and lose their linguistic, cultural and political identity, and thereby join the list of lost tribes and lost linguistic groups.
“It is not understood how a sovereign nation like India can allow the illegal migrants of some other countries to be granted citizenship, so liberally, even at the cost of its own citizens. Will those countries allow the minorities of India to enter illegally, settle there and get citizenship, the way India has proposed to do so?” he questioned.