Citizenship cut-off year of 1971 should be sacrosanct: Assam Cong

GUWAHATI: Opposition Congress in Assam has asserted that the cut-off date of March 24 midnight, 1971 for granting citizenship, as mentioned in the Assam Accord, should be sacrosanct and that the party would “detect and deport” people settling in the state beyond that date, if and when it returned to power.

Addressing reporters here on Sunday, APCC president, Ripun Bora condemned the Centre’s move to make the Citizenship Amendment Act effective from January 10, 2020, overlooking and disregarding mass protests against the contentious legislation.

“Let alone the mass movement, the Centre has shown no regard or respect for the judiciary by not waiting for the Supreme Court hearing (of over 60 petitions against CAA) scheduled on January 22, 2020. We condemn such high-handedness and firmly resolve to keep our agitation going against CAA till it is scrapped. Or else we will revoke the Act when our party comes back to power,” Bora said.

The APCC president, while pointing out that the 1971 cut-off year for granting citizenship was exclusive for Assam, expressed apprehension that the cut-off date of December 31, 2014 under CAA could be further reviewed and extended.

“How can the ruling dispensation guarantee that there will not be any religious persecution of minorities in the three neighbouring countries after the cut-off year of 2014. Therefore, we firmly oppose 2014 as the cut-off year and demand that March 24 midnight, 1971 be considered the cut-off date for citizenship in Assam. The Assam Accord has to be followed in letter and spirit. If not, once we come to power, we will detect and deport people who have settled in the state after March 24 midnight, 1971,” he said.

The APCC further questioned how Clause 6 of the Assam Accord could be implemented without clarity in regard to the terminology, “Assamese people”, which has been changed to “indigenous tribal, indigenous Assamese and other indigenous people of Assam.”

“The terms of reference, as given by the Union home ministry, cannot be diluted. The ruling dispensation is only trying to adopt diversionary tactics to wean away people who are currently engaged in a movement against CAA,” Bora added.

‘Padyatra’

Meanwhile, the first phase of the ‘padyatra’ to galvanise support against CAA,’ undertaken by the Assam Congress from Sadiya on December 22, 2019, culminated in Dhubri on January 11, 2020.

“Public response has been very good with over 20,000 people taking part in Dhubri alone. The first phase covered 14 districts. We will start kick-start the second phase from Sarupathar (Dergaon) on January 20, and thereafter cover many places in Upper Assam before winding up at Gohpur on January 29, 2020,” the APCC president said.

The third phase of the padyatra will begin from Behali on February 13 and culminate at Barpeta on February 21. “The fourth and fifth phases will be held in Barak Valley and the hill districts of Assam, the dates of which will be announced later,” he said.

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