Assam’s AGP opposes citizenship to Bangladeshi, Pakistani minorities

Guwahati, Sep 8 (IANS) Assam’s political party AGP on Tuesday warned the Centre against granting citizenship to “victims of religious persecution” in Bangladesh and Pakistan, saying it will threaten the identity of the indigenous people of the state.

The Asom Gana Parishad said it will also endanger the political, economic and cultural rights of the indigenous people.

The AGP’s reaction came after the central government issued two notifications in the Official Gazette on Tuesday under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946.

It said that it has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014 from the relevant provisions under the two acts, with respect to their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents.

The Centre said minority communities in those countries — such as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, Parsis and Buddhists — were compelled to seek shelter in India due to religious persecution.

The notification said the issue of regularisation of entry and stay of such Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals in India was under consideration of the central government.

The AGP on Tuesday reminded the BJP-led central government that there had been a six-year-long movement in Assam between 1979 and 1985 against such ‘foreigners’.

The then central government had agreed to expel all those who entered Assam after March 25, 1971 irrespective of caste, religion and linguistic affiliation, and the historic Assam Accord was signed that marked the end of the movement.

“The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is defying the clauses of the Assam Accord by issuing the notification and thereby planning to grant citizenship to those foreigners,” said AGP president Atul Bora.

“The BJP has once again betrayed the people of Assam by defying the clauses of the Assam Accord. We are going to oppose this move of the central government and will oppose this tooth and nail,” he said.

Assam’s farmers’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has also decided to launch a mass movement against the decision of the central government, and said it will not allow this to happen in Assam.

KMSS chief Akhil Gogoi said the Centre’s decision to accept victims of religious persecution would burden Assam with about 15 lakh people and this would not only affect the demography of the state but also affect the indigenous people.

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