People coming due to religious persecution to be protected: Sonowal

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Kolkata, Nov 25 (IANS) Denying allegations that an attempt has been made to draw a distinction between Bangladeshi Muslims and Hindus through amendment of the Citizenship Act, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Saturday said people who have come to India due to religious persecution were to be protected.

He also said the state government would follow the directions from the Supreme Court with regard to updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC). He claimed the central government’s Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 had no relation with the updating of NRC.

“Look, for the preparation of NRC, it has nothing to do with that issue. Whatever discipline has been set by the apex court, it is to be followed,” he said when asked about the amendment in the Citizenship Act “welcoming Bangladeshi Hindus but not Bangladesh Muslims”.

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Responding to a query whether his government supported the distinction between Bangladeshi Hindus and Bangladeshi Muslims, the Chief Minister told the India Today Conclave East: “Six religious minority communities, whoever have come to India, (have come) out of religious persecution from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh. That has been the issue relating to a particular matter. It is not a question of distinction but a question of people who have come out of religious persecution. They are to be protected and it is the principled line undertaken by the Government of India.”

In reference to updating NRC, Sonowal said the matter would be heard again on November 29 and also indicated that the state might take extension of the deadline of December for readying an updated NRC.

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