STAFF REPORTER GUWAHATI, May 17 - Bihar Chief Minister and Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar has extended his full support to the All Assam Students Union’s move to oppose the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. Kumar would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the imminent threat to the identity of indigenous population of Assam and the Northeast if the Bill is passed.An AASU delegation met the Bihar Chief Minister in Patna on Wednesday as part of its strategy to take the movement to national level and form a strong political lobby against the proposed legislation.
AASU chief adviser Samujjal Kumar Bhattacharya, president Dipanka Kumar Nath and general secretary Lurin Jyoti Gogoi during an interaction with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, in Patna on Wednesday night. – UB Photos
“Nitish Kumar’s support is a major development for our cause as we need strong leaders at the national level to take up this issue and support our stand. Well aware of the history of the students movement in the State and the problem of cross-border infiltration, he has assured us to write to the Prime Minister,” AASU advisor Samujjal Bhattacharya said.
“He also told us that in a secular country like India, citizenship cannot be granted on the basis of religion,” he added. Harivansh Narayan Singh, MP from Bihar and a member of the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) was also present in the meeting.
So far the student body has met leaders from 11 national and regional political parties, including the TMC, Shiromani Akali Dal, TDP, DMK, AIADMK, CPM, CPI, Congress(I), BJP and BPF over the issue. It will soon meet West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu to build a strong political opinion against the Bill.
“We have also sought an audience with Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the issue. But for reasons best known to him, the meeting has not been fixed yet,” AASU president Dipanka Kumar Nath said.
However, over the issue of meeting Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on the issue, AASU leaders said that he was duty-bound to protect the Assamese people. “It’s his constitutional obligation to protect the people of Assam. If the Meghalaya Chief Minister can take a strong stand, BJP’s alliance partner in Bihar Nitish Kumar can announce his unconditional support and people of the entire State can unite for this cause, do we need a formal meeting with the Chief Minister to apprise him of the matter,” Bhattacharya said.
The student body further claimed that their movement was gaining momentum both on the streets and at political level. At the state-level, the regional units of the AASU are organizing protest activities apart from its collaboration with the 28 ethnic bodies of Assam, while another movement was also launched with the Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad (SAKP). At the Northeast-level also, the AASU has united with student bodies of all the seven states against the Bill.