By Priyanka Paul
Silchar: The Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which aims to provide Indian citizenship to non-Muslim immigrants from neighbouring countries, “is not a favour but is an atonement of the past mistakes,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said.
The PM made the remarks in a public meeting in Bengali-dominated Silchar in Assam today and, this comes a day after the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) finalised its report on the Bill contentious for its religious overtones.
“Citizenship (Amendment) Bill is not only a mere piece of legislation. It concerns the emotions of scores sons and daughters of mother India, who have been wronged in the past. This is not a favour to them but is an atonement of the past mistakes,” Modi said in his speech at Silchar’s Ramnagar Ground.
Stating that “he hopes the Bill will be implemented soon,” the PM asked that if “sons and daughters of mother India” wronged anywhere in the globe is not sheltered in India, where else they should go?
In this context, he also referred to the ongoing update of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and, said that BJP governments at the Centre and Assam are doing everything to everyone dropped from the draft NRC gets a proper legal hearing.
“I am aware that you are going through hardships in the NRC update process. But it is because of your sacrifices that this long outstanding issue is now on the road to a resolution once and for all. Trust you me, not a single citizen of Indian will be dropped from the (final) NRC,” Modi said.
Of the 40-lakh odd people in Assam who haven’t found a place in the NRC draft, a major chunk is Bengalis. In three-district Barak Valley alone, some three-lakh Bengalis have been excluded from the draft.
Ironically, in his speech, the PM also referred to his Cabinet’s decision two days ago to form a high-powered committee to implement Section 6 of the Assam Accord that speaks of protecting and nurturing Assamese language and culture by way of job reservations, etc. in the multi-lingual state.
Addressing a rally at the same venue ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Modi had assured abolishing all detention camps in Assam, the revival of the Hindustan Paper Mill at Panchgram near Silchar and, completion of the Saurashtra-Silchar Super-Highway within three months of coming to power.
None of these promises has been met yet and, PM Modi did not speak a single word on these today.
Speaking before the PM, Assam heavyweight minister, Himanta Biswasharma, said that “Hindus cannot be treated as foreigners in India” and advocated for the passage of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill.