AASU asks parties to clarify stand on CAA in poll-bound Assam

As the hectic campaigning for the three-phase assembly elections in Assam gains momentum, the All Assam Students Union (AASU), an influential student body, has asked the political parties to clear their stand on the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA).

The AASU would organise bike rallies on March 20 across Assam to press for its demand to repeal the CAA and create awareness among the people against the forces that support the contentious law.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to address an election rally in Chabua in Dibrugarh district on March 20. It will be the first campaign rally of the Prime Minister in Assam after the declaration of Assembly elections in five states/UT on February 26.

AASU President Dipanka Kumar Nath said: “Disregarding the Assam Accord, the ruling BJP has prepared a plan to destroy Assam by dumping the illegal immigrants in the state.”

He said the AASU, along with the indigenous people of Assam, would oppose the “harmful blueprint” of the Bharatiya Janata Party at any cost.

“Five people had lost their lives while agitating against CAA in 2019 and last year, but the people are determined to continue their protests to repeal the act,” Nath said.

The AASU leader said that CAA is a threat to the identity and culture of Assam.

The main opposition Congress is the only political party in Assam to have made the anti-CAA campaign one of its main election issues.

Last month, the Congress had announced that the party leaders and workers would visit every house in the state and collect 50 lakh ‘gamochas’ with anti-CAA messages to intensify its campaign against the CAA.

The traditional ‘gamocha’ is a white piece of cloth with a red border having a customary pattern, which is almost synonymous to Assamese identity and culture.

The Congress also promised “five guarantees” if it is voted to power in Assam, which include enactment of a law to nullify the CAA, five lakh government jobs, raising of tea workers’ daily wages to Rs 365 from the existing Rs 167, free electricity of up to 200 units per household and Rs 2,000 monthly income support to all the housewives.

The CAA, which seeks to protect the non-Muslim immigrants who entered India from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, is in disagreement with the Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 by the government led by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi with the Assam parties.

According to the accord, the immigrants, irrespective of faith, who entered Assam after March 24 (midnight), 1971 are to be detected and deported.

The National Register of Citizens of 1951 is being updated in Assam based on this cut-off date.

All the eight northeastern states and neighbouring West Bengal witnessed violent protests for many weeks in 2019 and in early 2020 against the CAA.

Five people had died in police firing while more than 200 persons were arrested in Assam following the violent protests in which a huge number of government and non-government assets were damaged.

Notified on January 10, the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, seeks to grant Indian citizenship to non-Muslim minorities — Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians — who migrated from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan till December 31, 2014, after facing religion-based persecution.