Stringent verification will be done before granting citizenship: Sarbananda Sonowal
Clarifying the air on the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 at a recent programme Sarbananda Sonowal said that the people of Assam should not believe in hearsay
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal cleared some air on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 on January 25 and urged the people not to believe in any false information being spread by some people.
Speaking during the programme organised by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) to felicitate the winners of the panchayat polls from across Assam at Sarusajai stadium, the CM reassured the people that all due processes would be followed before granting citizenship to refugees in Assam.
“This Bill is not just for Assam. The earlier governments were not concerned about the protection of the rights of the indigenous Assamese people which we have taken up. A few days ago, the opposers of the Bill said that 1.90 lakh people will come to Assam as a result of the Bill. However, they later reduced the number,” said Sonowal.
The BJP-led government has faced flak over its decision to pass the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 which was passed by the Lok Sabha on January 8 and is pending passage in the Rajya Sabha. The Bill has seen various protests from across the state over the past few months which intensified since it was passed by the Lok Sabha.
Most recently, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), along with 30 other indigenous organisations, carried out a “Bajra Ninad” rally on January 23.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 seeks to amend the Citizenship Act 1955 by making Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan become eligible for Indian citizenship.
The Bill proposes to relax the norms of a person to apply for citizenship by relaxing the 11- year requirement for residing in India to six years for people belonging to the earlier mentioned six religious communities.
The CM mentioned that the process of granting the citizenship will be done only after thorough scrutiny of each individual by the state as well as the central government.
“If an immigrant from Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Pakistan residing in Kamrup (Metro) district wants Indian citizenship, they will first have to prove that they are immigrants and submit an application with documents to the deputy commissioner (DC), who will then examine the application and forward it to the state government if the DC deems it fit,” said Sonowal.
He added that subsequently the state government will again undertake verification and cross-checking process and will then send the application to the central government.
Finally, the central government will further confirm and verify if the person indeed was a resident of Bangladesh, Afghanistan or Pakistan before settling in Assam. Only after the central government is satisfied, it will follow all constitutional provisions to grant citizenship to the person, informed Sonowal.
“Therefore, today the misinformation that is being spread in villages that people from Bangladesh will come in large numbers and settle in the state threatening the indigenous people’s existence is completely baseless,” clarified the chief minister.
Coming down heavily on the opposition, he said, “People have called me names and have tried to pull me down over the past few days. But they can’t diminish my patriotism and commitment to the nation and to Assam.”
We have no time to waste on protests: Himanta Biswa Sarma
Speaking on the recent protests against the BJP's move on the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016 during the same programme, state finance and health & family welfare minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma said that the BJP has no time to waste on these protests.
"For the past few days there have been protests. We tell them that we won't compete with you, we can also give a clarion call but our call would be for development. We have been entrusted to work and so the BJP has no time to waste for such protests. If you want to protest have some courage and go to char areas and protest,” said Sarma.
Speaking about the plight of the Assamese people in areas that have been demographically changed by Bengali Muslims the minister said that the Assamese people have forever lost the power to change anything in these 14 districts. And so, the BJP is laying emphasis on the CAB and the ST status of the six communities and the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord. These steps would provide safeguards to the indigenous Assamese, said the minister.
He further added, “When people criticise us on the streets, I can understand their anger as they see BJP's presence in the hill districts, in the most interior of places in the state, among the tea tribes and the indigenous tribes and in the Barak Valley. This gathering is going to give them sleepless nights.”
Reposing confidence on the party workers, the minister said that they are certain of winning the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
“BJP formed the govt in 2014 at the national level and in 2016 we formed the BJP government at the state level and finally today we have reached governance at the grassroots level through our win in the panchayat polls. The expansion of the BJP has brought this memorable day and those who have won in the panchayat polls have a responsibility now. We have to ensure party’s victory in the Lok Sabha elections,” said the minister.