AASU: New law fails to protect rights of indigenous people

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (IANS) The All Assam Students Union (AASU) on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Citizenship Amendment Act, stating that due to the continued influx of illegal immigrants in Assam, the Centre has failed to protect the rights of the indigenous people of the state.

The AUSU claimed the Act violates the obligations of the Centre under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The petition said the Act attempts to grant blanket exemptions from the provisions of law governing grant of citizenship to a certain class of foreigners in India, who have entered or are staying in India without valid documents.

The students union claimed it imposes an unreasonable and unfair burden on Indian states in the absence of any budgetary allocation for the illegal migrants expected to take citizenship of India as a result of the guidelines under the Act.

The students’ union said the Centre claimed that Bangladeshis entered India due to, “steep and continuous increase in population, sharp deterioration in land-man ratio and low rates of economic growth particularly poor performance in agriculture”. And, the people of all religions from Pakistan and Bangladesh have come for the same reason.

“There is thus no basis for the Centre to exempt illegal migrants from the applicable statutory scheme on the basis of religious persecution in Afghanistan, Bangladesh or Pakistan”, said the petition.

The petition contends the Centre had been directed, through an apex court order, to completely stem the flow of illegal migrants from Bangladesh into India, as well as to speedily detect and remove permanently all illegal migrants who are residing in the state of Assam, having entered after Match 25, 1971.

“In the light of such directions, the impugned Act is clearly an attempt to bypass the express directions of the apex court. By establishing vague and indeterminable criteria, the effect of the impugned provisions will enable more illegal migrants to claim exemption from the existing statutory framework”, said the petition.

The students union said both religion-based classification and country-based classification, done in various sections of the Act, are unconstitutional and liable to be struck down by the top court.

The petition urged the top court to declare “the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019 as a whole, or Sections 2, 3, 5 and 6 thereof, as discriminatory, arbitrary and illegal and consequently set aside the impugned Act as ultra-vires of the Constitution.”

The Assam Accord specifically provided that steps would be taken to detect and deport illegal migrants from the state of Assam. It is submitted that the Union is bound by its sovereign promise.

The students union has urged the Centre to take effective steps for implementation of Assam Accord in general and for conservation and preservation of the distinct culture, heritage and traditions of the indigenous people of Assam in furtherance to Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.

–IANS/

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