Assam martyrs’ families to return awards over Citizenship Bill

GUWAHATI: Families of 860 martyrs of the Assam Agitation have decided to return their awards conferred on by the state government two years ago if the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 is passed in Parliament.

The families are members of the Sadou Asom Jatiya Swahid Pariyal Somonnorokhyi Parishad, which also comprise 3,000 persons who were injured or rendered physically challenged during the six-year Agitation since 1979.

The Assam government had conferred the awards to the families of the martyrs at a function on the Veterinary College playground in Khanapara here on the occasion of Swahid Divas (December 10) in 2016. An amount of Rs 5 lakh and a memento was presented to the next of kin of each of the martyrs’ families on that day.

Khargeswar Talukdar had become the first martyr of the Assam Movement on December 10, 1979.

“We have been agitating against the Bill for quite some now and with the Centre apparently intent on getting the proposed legislation passed, we have decided that we will return the awards that were conferred on the martyrs in 2016 by the state government here,” Rajen Deka, president of the Parishad, formed in 1989, told The Shillong Times on Tuesday.

The Parishad members will meet on Wednesday and decide on the specific course of action if the Bill is passed. “We will be returning the awards in a day or two,” Deka said.

“We do not want such an honour if the government introduces a Bill which facilitates entry of foreigners into Assam. The 860 martyrs had laid down their lives during the anti-foreigners movement and we cannot let the sacrifice go in vain. The government cannot honour and hurt us at the same time, which is why we have decided to take the step,” he said.

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