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After emotive protests in Assam over the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seems to have changed tack on the issue in the state.

The Bill, which was tabled in the Lok Sabha in July 2016, seeks to amend the Citizenship Act, 1955 by enabling illegal immigrants of six minority communities - Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Christians - from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan to apply for Indian citizenship.

"The JPC has not taken any decision or submitted their recommendation but only visited the state to take the opinion and views of different sections of people and organisation", Patowary, also the industry minister, said. More than 100 groups, including Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Congress and All Assam Students' Union (AASU), gathered on the streets of Guwahati to voice their opposition on May 7.

"I appeal to all to maintain peace so that unwanted situations do not develop in the state".

Narah said they would send memoranda to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, governor Jagdish Mukhi, chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal and the Joint Parliamentary Committee which has been seeking public opinion on the bill.

Sonowal said there was an allegation against him that he was not allowing the JPC team to visit Assam.

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The Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal ) (IMDT) Act was enacted in 1983 to detect and deport illegal foreigners from Assam.

However, Assam Congress has rejected the earlier stand of the party and asserted that they are opposed to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016. The Accord marked the end of anti-foreigner movement - anyone who entered the state after the midnight of March 24, 1971, would be considered an illegal immigrant, irrespective of their faith.

Slamming the Congress for showing double standard, Patowary said while Congress leaders in Guwahati are opposing the bill, its leaders in Bengali-dominated Barak Valley are supporting it.

In the meeting, many NGOs including United Front of former members of the ULFA, KSU, FKJGP, HYC, HNYF, the Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya and others strongly opposed the Bill and urged the government not to introduce the Bill in the Parliament. Opposition in Brahmaputra Valley arises from the fact that the Bill contravenes the Assam Accord of 1985, signed by Assamese nationalists and the Centre.

"Even without passing of the Bill, illegal Bangladeshi immigrants are crossing over to the region be it Assam, Tripura or any other state", he said while maintaining that the North East region can not take the burden of Bangladeshis anymore since the region took the entire load of Bangladeshis fleeing their country during their liberation war.


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