Lok Sabha passes Citizenship Bill for non-Muslims

Activists of the Assam Pradesh Congress committee shout slogans during a rally in protest against Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016 which will provide citizenship or stay rights to minorities from Bangladesh Pakistan and Afghanistan in India in Guwahati

"We are opposing the Citizenship Bill and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh not to bring this bill, which will harm Assam and the people of the state".

The BJP says it is in favor of institutionalizing "constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards" to the ethnic Assamese, but also wants to give citizenship to Hindus from Bangladesh as the growth in the Hindu population of Assam had been overtaken by that of Muslims.

The supporters of the 70 organisations said they would hold protests in front of offices and installations of Oil India Ltd and ONGC across the state.

The Lok Sabha on Tuesday passed the Citizenship Amendment Bill, 2019 that seeks to remove hurdles in eligible migrants from six minority groups from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan getting Indian citizenship despite opposition by various political parties including Congress and Trinamool Congress.

The bill is unlikely to pass the upper house of Parliament, which isn't controlled by the ruling party.

Ajit Pratap Singh, superintendent of police of the West Tripura district, told The Indian Express over phone that at around 10am, around 250 protesters had blocked the national highway in the area and had pelted stones on police personnel.

It is estimated that millions of Bengali-speaking people in Assam trace their roots to Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which won independence from Pakistan in 1971 with India's help.

The BJP has 61 members and the party has support from 12 MLAs of the Bodoland People's Front and the sole Independent member.

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"We have identified the stone pelters by seeing video footage and they will be booked soon", Assam police official Surjeet Singh Panesar said.

Terming it an "unfortunate" development, Sangma said his government had opposed the Bill and the cabinet had even passed a resolution against it.

"The BJP won many seats in the Assembly elections (in 2016) only due to the AGP".

He said the Bill not only applies to Assam but to the entire country and such migrants were in several other states. "Our party was formed in 1985 with this promise of freeing Assam from illegal migrants from Bangladesh", AGP president Atul Bora said.

However, in Tripura where the saffron brigade had wrested power just previous year, it had no impact as well as the Barak Valley of Assam which has been supporting the contentious citizenship bill since its inception.

"We decided for an alliance with the BJP based on understanding on the Assam Accord and other issues". While the AGP broke off the alliance, allies Shiv Sena and JD (U) opposed the legislation. The move came within hours of the presentation in Lok Sabha of a report of the Joint Parliamentary Committee examining the bill that was first introduced in Parliament in 2016.

Bora, along with Kesab Mahanta, the AGP working president, and Phani Bhusan Choudhury of the party are ministers in the BJP-led government in Assam.

A day after regional Asom Gana Parishad quit the BJP-led alliance, senior AGP leader and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta said on Tuesday the BJP had no moral right to be in power and dared it to seek a fresh mandate.

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