If Citizen (Amendment) Bill not passed, Assam will go to ‘Jinnahs’, says BJP’s Himanta Biswa Sarma

A senior Minister of Assam has said that if the Citizen (Amendment) Bill 2016 is not passed, it will be a surrender to the ‘philosophy of Jinnah’, reported the Indian Express. 

Senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is the face of the BJP in the North East, in a press conference said, “People are concerned that we are trying to bring somebody (outsiders), which is false. Without that Bill, we are surrendering ourselves to the philosophy of Jinnah… This is a fight between Jinnah’s legacy and India’s legacy,” Sarma, the BJP’s Northeast face, said at a press conference here.

The Bill essentially proposes to make minority (or non-Muslim) immigrants from three neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan, eligible for Indian citizenship. The Centre is set to bring the Bill before Parliament, and speaking in Silchar on Friday, Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi called it “atonement” of the mistakes of Partition.

The Bill is seen to be violating the 1985 Assam Accord that, simply put, says that any immigrant who came into the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, would be identified as a foreigner.

Sarma said, “Let the Assam Accord be violated, but let us not go to Jinnah. You have to determine between the Assam Accord and Jinnah. Which way will you go?”

When a reporter asked if he meant Muslims by “Jinnah”, he replied that he had said “Jinnah” and not named any community.

Sarma also added that the purpose of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) was to “detect Jinnahs”.

In the north-eastern state of Assam, India has published a list which strips four million people of their citizenship. It says the process is to root out hordes of illegal Bangladeshi migrants.

The list, named as the National Register of Citizens (NRC), is a list of people who can prove they came to the state by 24 March 1971, when Bangladesh was created.

The list has sparked fears of targeted hunting towards ethnic minorities in Assam. However, officials have said that no one will face immediate deportation and that the option of an appeal will be available to all.

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